Monday, May 12, 2014

Erin's Top 10 in a Future Husband

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was challenged to write down a list of traits and characteristics I wanted in my future husband. I was told to be specific and to pray specifically. My daughter is in a Christian school, and this last semester in her 7th grade Bible class they covered LSD – Love, Sex and Dating. Their project was to come up with a top 10 list for their future husband. It was understood that they would be praying for a growing Christian who attended church, so that could not be one of the top ten. I asked Erin if I could share hers. I’ve also made a copy and my mom has a copy to pull out an engagement party or rehearsal dinner. There are things in her list that make me laugh, and there are things on her list that show me that my daughter REALLY knows who she is, and there are things on her list that show me where we need some work. All in all, I think Erin did a great job for a 7th grader. Enjoy, Erin’s top 10 list:

1. He needs to be pure. If I wait until marriage and I have to go through the hard times of waiting I want to have a husband who waited also, so it will be special on our wedding night.

2. He needs to have a good personality. He needs to be quiet, and patient and willing to listen to my crazy ideas and not think I’m losing it. Also he needs to be calm because I am sort of dramatic. Another thing is he will probably need to know how to put up with my stubbornness. For those who don’t know my sweet Erin, she is quite gregarious, loquacious and funny.

3. He needs to be a good provider and a hard worker. I want to be a stay at home mom, so he will need to be a good provider so we can all eat.  

4. I would like a husband who is affectionate. If I’m sad he will hold me and tell me it is okay, and he won’t make fun of me, if I can’t do something.

5. He should be able to cook. I can’t cook so if he doesn’t want us to live off of fast food and take out it will be good if he can cook. He should be able to cook on a stove, microwave, oven, and grill. This is where we have some work to do.

6. He needs to be protective but not overly protective. Like if someone is saying something mean to me, I would like him to stand up to that person. I would not like him to always ask me where I’m going, like I don’t want him to hang out with me and my friends all the time. He’ll be able to hang out with his friends without me always questioning him, same goes with me.

7. I would like my future husband to love kids. I want to be a mom so my husband will need to like kids, because if he doesn’t like kids he won’t want any.

8. I would like him to be handsome. He will be 5’9, so he will be taller than me but not too tall where I can’t kiss him when we get married. He will not be really skinny but not fat, he will be in the middle. He will have dirty brown hair, and either hazel eyes or blue eye, but if he has blue eyes they have to be as blue as the sky, sky blue eyes. Also he has to have hair that he can flip out of his eyes, but not the Justin Beiber flip; I don’t really like Justin Beiber. He can’t have big feet, but he can’t have small feet either, they have to be just right. Another thing is he has to have perfect hands. They have to fit into mine perfectly. He can’t have sweaty feet or hands, they need to be non sweaty. I think that’s it. This one made me laugh, but I thought the perfect hands to fit into hers was very sweet.

9. I would like him to be educated. I would like him to have a high school degree and a college degree. These are really important to me because I would like him to be smart and get a good job that he got with his college degree.

10.  I would really like it if he could sing, it’s not that big of a deal but it would be nice. So when I’m scared or I’ve had a bad day he could hold me and sing to me.     

Erin and I had talked about these things previously, but I didn’t make her write them down because she isn’t close to dating. She knows that dating means you are looking for the man God has for you to marry and that’s why dating really isn’t appropriate at an early age. We’ve talked about boundaries and respect. Recently, one of her friends who’s a boy told her that he was atheist. She asked me what I thought about that. I told her we are to be the salt and light. We aren’t here to judge and condemn but point others to Christ. The boy told her he didn’t want her to try to convert him. She told him it wasn’t her job, but she did point out some errors in his thinking about God’s Word. The way she handled it opened up further dialogue and now he is interested in coming to church with her. When she and I were talking about this, I asked Erin, “Is this someone you would date?” She thought for a moment, and she said, “No, ma’am. I couldn’t.” She said, “You marry someone you date, and the Bible says that I should not be unequally yoked with a nonbeliever in marriage.”

It’s not just one conversation that helps shape a child and their beliefs. It’s many conversations. It’s conversations from different people. Pray for the people who are influencing your children. Pray for your kids as they begin to make choices that affect their future. Teach them God’s principles, bind them to their hearts. I’m not done with her. I’m not done having conversations and listening to her, and if you are someone who is a godly influence to my daughter or my son, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Story of Shame and Grace. My Soul Knows It Well.

There’s a verse that haunts me. It has haunted me since I first read it. It haunts me because it has never jumped out at me until I started studying the events leading up to the crucifixion. It’s a verse that overwhelms me at times because out of everyone in the Bible I most relate to this one…Peter. Peter was impetuous. He was a leader. He was passionate and eager. Did you ever notice that no one else had courage to get out of the boat or even ask about getting out of the boat during the storm? Just sayin’.

Peter was an all-in kind of guy. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus tells Peter that Satan has asked to sift Peter. Jesus tells Peter without telling Peter straight out that Satan is going to try him, and Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him. “But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Oh my word, Jesus calls him SIMON. Did you catch that? Simon is the name used before Peter affirmed who Jesus was. I wonder if Peter caught that. I wonder if Peter thought it odd that Jesus would call him Simon after all this time of being called Peter, or he may not have thought a thing about it until retrospect. Jesus knew that Simon Peter would turn his back, but He also knew that Peter would return to him. Did you catch that? “And when you have turned back…” I’m sure Peter had to be confused a little, but I know he had to have played those words back to himself over and over again once things settled.

It’s Peter’s response that shows his heart, his intent, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you to prison and to death” (33). Jesus then tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows. What turmoil and internal struggle Peter had to be enduring, but it’s just the beginning. It’s just the beginning.

Jesus takes the disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray. He then takes Peter, James and John further in and asks them to pray. Jesus tells them to pray so that they won’t fall into temptation. Peter needed this time of prayer. He did. He really needed it, but instead he fell asleep. When Jesus woke them, Jesus had been praying so fervently that he had drops of blood on his face. Think for a moment. If your child came and woke you in the middle of the night with blood all over their face, what would your initial response be? I would be freaking out without a doubt.

As Jesus is telling them to get up and pray is when the mob shows up with Judas, and the events start unfolding so quickly. Peter slices of the high priest’s, servant’s ear smooth off. He is a man of action, impetuous action. Jesus fixes Peter’s mistake. He takes the ear and reattaches it good as new, and tells Peter to put his sword away. He tells Peter and those around him that he could call 72,000 angels down if He so chose to do (Mt), but Jesus has come to fulfill Scripture. So let it be.

Jesus is led away to the high priest’s palace in the middle of the night to be interrogated. They tried to find false witnesses, but none of their stories stuck. Meanwhile Peter is in the courtyard. Most likely within earshot of Jesus, and I’ll show you why I think this in a minute. Jesus remained silent which was an admission of guilt in this illegal Jewish court.  They spit in his face, hit Him with their fists, slapped Him, and mocked Him. All during this time, a girl, then a woman confronted Peter about his association with Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus. The Sanhedrin voted that Jesus should be put to death because Jesus said He would destroy the temple and raise it up in three days, but the Sanhedrin lacked the authority to put anyone to death. Peter is confronted for the third and final time, and Peter denies Jesus. And here is the verse that haunts me. After Jesus has endured the initial mocking and beating and being humiliated, And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter recalled the Lord’s words” (Luke 22:61). The rooster crows as Peter denies for the third time, and Jesus made eye contact with Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. I can so feel the weight of that moment.

It is no wonder that Peter wept bitterly and sorrowfully (Lk 22:62). I’m just telling you I would be bawling uncontrollably. You know that ugly, guttural cry with snot going everywhere. It’s one thing to do something and not get caught or even to get caught afterwards, but to see the look on Jesus’ face just at the moment when you have failed Him the most. I just wonder what was the look on Jesus’ face. There’s no look that would have made Peter felt any better or any worse.

We really don’t hear much more from Peter or see him in Scripture until after the Passover meal when Jesus has been placed in the tomb, and the believers have come together to grieve. The women go to put spices at the tomb and encounter the angels. The women return and told the eleven and the others what they saw. Most didn’t believe them, but Peter, he got up and ran. He ran to the grave. He saw the empty tomb. He saw the strips of linen. What he didn’t see was the body of Christ. Luke 24:12, …he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

And when you have returned…  John 21: 1-14 shows the disciples have returned to their old way of life – fishing. It’s what they knew. It’s what they were comfortable doing. But Jesus wasn’t done with them, and Jesus knew that in order for them to become the New Testament church that Peter needed to be restored. Jesus gives Peter the same number of opportunities to acknowledge his love for Jesus as the number of times Peter denied Jesus. How healing that must have been for Peter. I hope it removed his shame. I think it had to have.

This is truly a story of grace. It’s a story that I need. It’s the story my heart craves.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In the Adultresses Sandals


            The adulterous woman’s story can be found in John 8. This first sentence is peculiar because it finishes the story from chapter 7. It says the Pharisees went to their homes and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. It reminded me of Matthew 8:20, “And Jesus replied to him, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have lodging places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” He went to the Mount of Olives because Jesus had no home, no place to lay his head, and none of the Pharisees had offered him lodging.

            Then the Bible says that Jesus appeared or went at dawn in the Temple courts and sat down to teach. When does He teach you? When do you sit down with Jesus and listen?

            While Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law brought a woman who they caught in the act of adultery. First of all, did they catch her in the act because that was the kind of woman she was or did they catch her because they set a trap for her? Second, these men were breaking the law because they failed to bring the adulterer with them. Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 says both the woman and the man, the adulterer and adulterous should be put to death. It takes two to commit adultery, so why leave the man out of this equation?

            The teachers of the Law and Pharisees made the woman stand in the middle while they openly exposed her sin to everyone who was around. I noticed they didn’t openly discuss their own sins or short-comings. It is so easy to point out the sins and short-comings of others, judge them and their sins being worse than our own making us feel superior, but when it comes to facing our own sins and confessing them that’s a different animal altogether, isn’t it?

            These men like the one in her bed were using her. The question the Pharisees posed regarding her sin was a trap for Jesus. They didn’t need her to be present to ask Jesus about adultery, but don’t you think they used her presence to try to manipulate Jesus or make the weight of their questions feel more real?

            After they asked the question, Jesus knelt and began writing in the dirt. These men were relentlessly asking Jesus what should be done. Keep in mind, she’s standing, and Jesus was kneeling. I’ve often wondered what He wrote. Personally, I think it would be great if Jesus was writing their sins down in the dirt at their feet, but that’s the fleshly side of me.

Jesus’s response is, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” I love this. It’s so clever. Matthew 7:3-5 says that we should take the log out of own eye before removing the splinter from someone else’s. Jesus said it before, and now He’s teaching it again. These Pharisees and teachers failed to realize is that Jesus came to fulfill the Law. He taught them that it was more important to exercise forgiveness and grace and mercy than to think yourself better than you aught. Now let’s bring that home. Sunday faces, church gossip groups (prayer groups), judging those who come to church and aren’t as perfect as yourself…yep, that’s how it. Her sin of adultery put Jesus on the cross just as the same as your sin of gluttony, gossiping, pride, anger, etc. You are no better. For we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Do you want all your dirty laundry displayed for others to see? Because I assure you, others know what you think your hiding. They know your sins too.

            Another caveat to this situation is that in Matthew 5:27, Jesus said that if you look and covet another man’s wife you have committed adultery. Your thought life can be just as convicting as doing the act, and you know that at least one of these men had to have thought about having sex outside his marriage. Yes, that’s an assumption on my part, but I think it’s pretty safe to say. I’ve found that those who bark the loudest often have the most to hide…just sayin’.

            So whiile these men are contemplating how to respond to Jesus, he stoops again to write in the dirt. This body language is intriguing to me. Truthfully, Jesus had full authority to stand up and ask each one of those men to their face about their sins. Even if Jesus had remained standing and looking into their faces as they pondered his statement, it could be considered as confrontational. Instead, by squatting with his face downward, He took a passive approach but shamed them just as effectively. Sometimes the most effective way of winning an argument isn’t by using a two by four to the head. Sometimes it’s simply being quiet as they figure it out in their own heads.

Slowly the men start to leave starting with the oldest. Why the oldest? Is it because they were wiser or was it because they had more time in life to accrue more sin? Either way, eventually all of her accusers leave, and she’s still standing in the same place where she had been forced by her accusers to stand. She’s standing. Jesus kneeling. What had to be going through her mind? This whole thing took place without her saying two words. This whole thing took place without her having the opportunity to say or defend herself, not that she would have much of a defense since they caught her in the act. But here she is with this man named Jesus who forced her accusers to leave by the words he said. Her life that she should have lost under the Law was found in the form of grace, mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

            Jesus stands and speaks to the woman. His actions here are not confrontational either nor are his words. Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? John 8:10. “Woman” is a term with tenderness. He called his mother “woman” when she asked him to turn the water to wine as his first miracle. Woman, where are your accusers? A rhetorical question asked to make her look and think. They both knew what had happened. Has no man condemned you? This is so not how she saw things ending. You realize that, don’t you? Women in her sandals were stoned, and yet, here she stood without anyone to condemn her of a sin that she had committed. Jesus told her, Neither do I condemn you. In John 3:17, it says he didn’t come to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. Jesus didn’t condemn her because he had sinned like those Pharisees that had to leave. He didn’t condemn her because that was not his role, his purpose for coming to the world. He told her to Go. Move out of the place where you were condemned. Step out of the place where you should have been condemned to death and change. He wanted her to live a life without sin because he knew the consequences for sin. She knew what the consequence of her sin should’ve been. It should’ve been death. For the wages of sin is death Romans 6:23. The consequence for sin is death and separation from God.

She went from a promiscuous behavior and bad choices to being forgiven; from being used to being redeemed; from having a death sentence to have a restored life; from being exposed to being covered with grace and mercy; from being defenseless to being defended in the name of love. She met the Savior, and I can’t help but think her life was never the same.

            For we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have all been condemned to death for our sins. There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10).  We have all worn her sandals. What do you do after you have been the recipient of grace, found forgiveness, been allowed to exchange death for eternal life? What have you done with that good news? Are you sharing it? Are you hiding it because you are too prideful and don’t want to admit you were a sinner and needed saving? What are you doing with Jesus Christ? Has your life been transformed? Mine has, a life transformed.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In Her Sandals -- She Meets Jesus and He's Drawing in the Dirt

This man they are calling Jesus tells them that whoever is without sin is to cast the first stone. I knew it. I knew I was going to die for it. Wait. What did he say? As I stand there, one by one the men begin to leave beginning with the oldest. I’m not sure if that is because they are wise or if it’s because they have accrued more sin. It doesn’t really matter. In the matter of a minute or so but what seemed like forever, all of my accusers had left.

It was awkward. Jesus stayed kneeling and drawing on the ground. Do I stay? Do I go? Do I say thank you? What does he want from me? What does he want in return? What is he expecting as his payment?  I wait. He stands up and looks me in the eyes…nowhere else, just in my eyes. I look into his face, and then he says,

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

It was the first time anyone had spoken to me since this whole thing started, and he was being nice to me. I search for my voice. As I speak my voice is shaky. No one, sir. I wait for the other sandal to drop. There has to be something horrible coming because I deserve it. I hold my breath. If he hits me, I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. My chest is heaving and heavy. My jaw is clinched.

Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin, Jesus said. Wait, what? He doesn’t condemn me either. I am so confused. He tells me to get out of that sinful way of living. So, what do I do? He smiles at me and moves on to speak to another group of people.

I leave the temple that day in complete amazement. I was condemned to die. I mean it’s laid out in the law. They caught me in the act of having sex with a married man. I was dead when they caught me. No one would listen to me. No one cared that I barely had any clothes on. No one cared that the man that had been my lover just slipped out unnoticed. They only wanted to make sure they had me. Grabbing me by my hair and arms, forcing me to go where I didn’t want to go, exposing me and my sin for everyone to hear, I really don’t think I could’ve gotten much lower. At one point I remember wishing that they would just stone me and get it over with. Then Jesus. That’s his name. Jesus. I’m not sure why they took me to see him to get his opinion, but I am so thankful they did. Not once did he call me those horrible names. Not once did Jesus use me or make me feel like I was dirt for the choices I had made. Not once. He looked me in the face. His eyes didn’t wander all over my body like I was a piece of meat. He saw me. He gave me something that I don’t know that I’ve ever been given before – grace. He spoke to me lovingly. He didn’t condone what I had done, but he also didn’t condemn me. All he asks of me is to leave that way of life. He didn’t want anything from me.

I was condemned to die, but he gave me life. I owe him my life. The least I can do is leave the way of life that caused him to have to save my sorry self. I can do it. I can.

I return home much to the amazement of my neighbors and family, and I tell them some of what had happened, and I tell them about Jesus. It’s the sweetest name I know.

Monday, February 3, 2014

In Her Sandals

There are some days you just want to crawl right back into bed, but that really isn’t an option nor a wise choice for me today. It’s already been an exhausting day, and it’s not even noon yet. As a matter of fact, my day started when men burst into my home and yanked me out of my bed not even allowing me to get completely dressed. I was shocked like anyone would be and then fear set in. These men were going to have me killed. I began begging and pleading with them, but no one was listening. I tried to explain about the man in my bed, but no one wanted to hear what I had to say. They just left him in my bed which is why going back to bed would not be a wise choice for me today.

I’ve never claimed to be a good girl. I’m a girl who gets by. I’ve made more than a few bad decision several times in my life, this morning being one of them, or maybe I should say last night was a bad decision.

I quickly realize these men aren’t interested in anything I might have to say. My fate is sealed. I know enough to know that they are going to kill me, have me stoned, and it’s not even noon yet. Have I said that already!? Not that I have thought about how I would die, but if I did, this certainly would be the way nor the reason.

They take me to the Temple where there’s a teacher speaking to an audience. I’m having to walk quickly and trip over the cobblestone. I’m breathing heavily and my hair falls into my face. These men who have me by the arms just barge in and throw me into the middle of the teacher and his class and tell me to stand there. They then begin telling this teacher what they caught me doing. I am humiliated. I’m barely dressed and now they are exposing everything. I have no dignity left. They ask this teacher what to do with me. They say there’s Moses’s Law that says I should be stoned. This man they are pressing for an answer is obviously a wise man. He kneels as if he’s thinking about his words, and they keep badgering him. I try to cover what I can, but there really isn’t much use. This man is near my feet and he’s drawing on the ground. Finally, he rises. I brace myself for what is to come, for what I deserve.