Thou Shalt Be Entertained

Entertained.Youth2

Media. It’s everywhere.  From the grocery store to the doctor’s office, we are exposed. Exposed to ideas and philosophies.  Many of these ideas give us cues for what is socially acceptable or normal. However, God says….

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.  Isaiah 5:20

Is it possible that the messages that I’m receiving through the media are “putting darkness” for light?

During my Bible reading, I came across the 10 commandments.

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

If I’m honest, a lot of music, magazines, television shows, movies, etc. encourage me to do the exact opposite of these commands.  For example, I was watching a family show where one of the main characters was justifying his desire to commit adultery because he needed to [follow his heart and embrace his truth].  And of course, the story line was written in such a way that I felt compelled to sympathize with the character’s plight.  However, as a Christian, is there ever a situation when adultery is okay? According to God, the answer is no.

When it comes to media, perhaps we are facing a great spiritual battle in regards to our hearts, minds, and desires. Through the guise of a catchy lyric or an entertaining plot line, how often are we exposing ourselves to lies?

…Did God really say? …Will you surely die? (Genesis 3)

Some may say that they are not affected by the media, but I would argue that God makes it clear about the power of our thoughts and influences:

  •  Luke 6:45-A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
  • Galatians 6:7-9– Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
  • Philippians 4:8– Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble…think about such things. 

I’m not saying that one has to completely disengage from the culture. However, I am questioning the role that entertainment has in my life.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m voluntarily bringing evil into my life and allowing my heart to be consumed with messages that are anti-God. And I’m wondering if entertainment is an opportunity where the enemy can plant seeds for sin.

Consider:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving…8 Live as children of light…10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:3-11

What does it mean to live as children of light?

What does it mean to have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness?

Is a song just a song if it encourages me to have sex outside of marriage?  Is a movie just a movie if it encourages me to seek out revenge or makes murder look cool?

Perhaps it’s time to recognize that we are engaged in a spiritual battle for our hearts and minds and take that into consideration when it comes to our entertainment choices.

What do you think?

 

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When Life Hands You Leftovers…

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’ve been “waiting for lightning“. Waiting for some miraculous sign that life is going to change for the better.

Instead of actively engaging in the world around me with passion and skinned knees, I’m just…waiting.

Waiting and receiving life’s “leftovers”.

It’s like I’m trapped in a cage, hoping for someone to open the door. But all the while, the key is sitting on floor. All I have to do is find the courage to pick up the key and leave.

The choice is mine.

I can move towards freedom or cling to my fear. My fear like an familiar ache that leaves me tense and paralyzed.

The choice is mine.

I don’t want to waste my time,  living a life of mediocrity while clinging to leftovers.

I want to live.

I want to live a life of meaning and purpose, not squandering the fleeting remains of my youth in a cage.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”-Reinhold Niebuhr

*I’ve been on a hiatus as I wrestle through some issues in my life (work, relationships, health, etc).

As time permits, I hope to share snippets of my journey in the future.  We’ll see. 🙂

However, my current theme song, as I wrestle with my struggles, is “Run Wild”.

I hope we all can have the courage to run wild/live free/and love strong.

Road Rage

If I’m honest, I’ve had my moments of frustration trying to navigate the perilous terrain of the big city. 😉 Dealing with people who drive too fast/too slow, fail to use their turn signals or take forever to change lanes, does not encourage the better parts of my nature.

However, it’s good to be reminded of the importance of being on one’s “best behavior” even when one is behind the wheel of an automobile. So, I present to you, Disney’s Motor Mania.

Enjoy.

Thou Shalt Get A 2nd Opinion

Medicine

Modern day medicine is awesome. And because of it, miracles are performed daily. However, when it comes to finding a diagnosis or treatment plan for whatever ails you, a person can find themselves falling through the cracks. I should know, because that’s what happened to me.

Over the last few years, I’ve been struggling with a condition called uterine fibroids. In case you are not familiar, uterine fibroids “are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.” mayoclinic

I’m not going to get into too much detail about this experience other than to say, that these things can wreak havoc with a woman’s reproductive system. And make life painful and frustrating.

So, why am I sharing this experience?  I’m sharing it because I had a doctor who told me that my fibroids were “nothing to worry about”.  And to be fair, when I was first diagnosed, 6 years ago, her claim was true.  However, most doctors employ a method called “watchful waiting, which include doing yearly tests to see if/how the fibroids are growing.  Unfortunately, in my case, my doctor was just waiting.

So about 2 years ago, I started to notice that my stomach was getting larger. At first I thought my growing girth was the result of a declining metabolism, but then I started to notice that my stomach was actually sloped and becoming rock hard even as it got bigger. In fact it was getting so large, I thought about buying maternity clothes, since I couldn’t stay in a pant size. In addition, I found myself becoming increasingly lethargic and needing to make frequent trips to the restroom. (Fibroids push on your bladder.)

Long story short, because of my increasing symptoms and my then gynecologist’s indifference, I started shopping around for a different doctor.  I even traveled to a different city (4 hours away) to find a specialist.

After a lot of prayer and research, I found my current doctor (in the city where I live) and was able to have a myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids) a few weeks ago.  It turns out my “nothing to worry about” was actually something to worry about. My current doctor ended up removing 24 fibroid tumors of varying sizes. 

So, the moral of the story is… if you find yourself in a medical situation and you think something is up, but your doctor doesn’t, don’t hesitate to get a 2nd opinion.  No one is infallible and it’s possible that the doctor, you are seeing, is not skilled in your specific health issue.

Either way, there’s no harm done. Getting a 2nd opinion will either confirm your suspicions (which could provide an opportunity for treatment) or it may confirm that there really is “nothing to worry about”.

-Stay healthy 🙂

CS Woman

Ps. I’m glad I had a myomectomy and my recovery is going well thanks to the help of my amazing family, friends, and doctor.

Image from  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

This. [The time to help a person work on their marriage is before they get married.]

It’s so much easier to build a strong, healthy foundation from the beginning.  But it is so much harder to fix a broken one once the “house” is already built.

Let us not miss out on the opportunity to develop wholeness and/or healthy, God honoring relationships during the single years.

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 4

LessonsPerson

Pursue Wholeness Not Formulas

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1Part 2, Part 3.)

Every couple has a different story.

  • Some people met their spouse while they were steeped in sin.
  • Others met “the one” when they became more active in church.
  • Some met their intended, one year after the date they wrote a prayer of surrender in their journal.

What am I trying to say?

You will find love when you are looking for it, but you may find it when you’re not.  You may find love when you are living at your best, but God may allow you to meet your spouse when you are at your worst.

There is no formula.

To clarify, I don’t think that people are trying to be glib when they give advice. In fact, most are trying to be helpful. However, I think people speak from their experiences or they speak phrases that they’ve heard others say and then try to apply those generalities to the single people in their lives.

So…what am I trying to say?

Be whole.  Be a whole person.

Pursue the Lord. Pursue your passions. Form friendships with people of the same sex and people of the opposite sex. Pursue friendships with people who are married and people who are single. And yes, if you don’t feel called to singleness (whether for a season or a lifetime), look for opportunities to increase activities where you can interact with like-minded people.

In all your ways acknowledge Him. Learn to believe in the goodness of God when times are good and when times are hard.  But in those times of hardship, know that God has compassion for you. And know that you are not meant to carry life’s burden by yourself. (Galatians 6:2)

Life is a journey, but regardless of your relationship status, learn to live daily for the glory of God.
And that, my friends, are the lessons that I would tell my younger self.

CS Woman

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 3

LessonsPerson

 

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1, Part 2.)

Serve Christ. Period.

Regardless of whether you are married or single, God may call you to church ministry, to volunteer, become a professional break dancer, etc. The possibilities are endless. 🙂

However, when it comes to singles, a number of us are encouraged to see this time as an opportunity for undistracted service to the Lord.  This idea is true and it’s biblical, but pointing out this truth may actually cause singles to focus on the wrong thing.

I am called to follow and serve Christ not because I am single.  I am called to serve Him because I am a Christ follower.  If my singleness allows me to serve in a different capacity than the married couples around me, that’s great, but my singleness should not be the motivation for my service.

Overall, I wish more people would have encouraged me to serve God. Period.

So that’s my challenge to you. Today, how is God asking you to serve?

To be continued…Part 4

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 2

LessonsPerson

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1.)

Pursuing A Romantic Relationship And Pursuing Christ Are Not Mutually Exclusive

If you are an adult, there’s a pretty good chance that you have a sex drive. And there’s a pretty good chance that you have longed for a romantic relationship.

Your sex drive and your desire for romance are not inherently evil. They are not entities that need to be feared or feverishly suppressed in some way.  They are biological drives that are a part of God’s design.  For sure, we can choose to sin when it comes to our sex drives and our dating choices.  But our capacity for romance is not the problem.

Over the years, I’ve heard a number of Christian leaders say things that have implied that you can’t follow Christ and date at the same time. So instead, they’ve encouraged people to focus primarily on Christ during their single years.

But here’s the thing, I think we can fall into a trap when we start to treat dating and romance with a “one size fits all” mentality.  To paraphrase the designer Tom Ford- [One-size fits all, doesn’t fit anyone well].

For teenagers who are not of marrying age, it may make sense to encourage them to focus their energy away from serious relationships.  Because in the words of my former youth pastor, “You will either breakup or get married.” (Most 16 year-olds are not ready for marriage, for them, stirring up passionate desires may lead to sexual sin.)

However, it can be argued that for a person who is in their 20’s (and beyond), marriage may be a practical outlet for the sex drive and romantic desires.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

Instead of telling adult singles blanket statements such as

  • Take a year off from dating.
  • Pursue Jesus, not romance.

Why not encourage us to acknowledge Him in all our ways?

What does this look like?

1. Spend time reading the Bible.

If I want to live a godly life, then I need to find out how God wants me to live my life. There’s no better way to do that than by spending consistent time reading the bible. (I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11) *If you’d like tips on how to study the Bible check out a recent post here.

2. Spend time in prayer.

Specifically when it comes to relationships, if there is someone that you are interested in, ask God for discernment.  But be willing to listen and obey-even if the answer is not what you want to hear.

3. Develop a community. 

Find people who will be honest with you.

Find people who are willing to encourage you when you make great decisions. And find people who are  also willing to tell you when you make lousy ones.

All that to say… if you acknowledge God in all your ways, you may come to the conclusion that you need to take a break from dating.

-Or-

You may come to the conclusion that God is leading you to pursue or accept a romantic relationship with the godly person you’ve been praying about.

Another two Cents:

I think one of the reasons that some people discourage singles from dating is because they have seen or experienced some very painful relationships. But my question would be, in those situations, did the two people involved seek to acknowledge God in all their ways? Were they seeking to glorify God in their actions and words or were they caught up in the thrill of romance?

And another thing- I truly believe that if we acknowledge Christ, He will guide us. In my experience, God has made it clear to me when a relationship was not in His will.

I’ve come to this realization…

  • because after getting to know the other person, I realized that we didn’t share the same values or life goals.
  • because my friends and family expressed concerns and reservations.
  • because I didn’t have a peace.

Real Life Example:

There was a time when I was dating a godly guy, but I kept feeling like I needed to end the relationship. The feeling became so strong that I ended up telling my boyfriend that I needed a week of separation.  During that time, I prayed about the relationship. After the week was over, I knew I needed to break things off. In hindsight, I know that decision was a good one, but at the time, it was hard to let that relationship go.

Again, I believe that God will direct us on how we should live our lives. The tricky part is will we listen?  Will we obey Christ when it is easy and when it’s hard?

To be continued…Part 3

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 1

LessonsPerson

Every so often I reach out to friends and family to see if they will share their stories on my blog. When I do, I often ask them to share lessons of what they wish they had known in regards to relationships.

This time, I’m going to direct that question to myself.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to some realizations that I wished I had learned earlier in life.  If I had, perhaps I would not have struggled with my singleness so much when I was younger.

You Are Physically Attractive And Attraction Is Not Just About Sexual Desire

Sound familiar? These principles are from the recent blog posts- Laws of Attraction: Let’s Get Practical Part 1, Part 2.

I’m introspective, analytical, and I often draw conclusions based on the information/circumstances around me.  This analytical personality can be beneficial, but sometimes the conclusions that I’ve come to are based on false assumptions.

A false assumption that I’ve been holding onto for years is…

Men pursue attractive women. Therefore if a man is not pursuing me, I am not attractive.

I am not a “serial dater”. In fact my romantic calendar has been somewhat blank.  Although, I know that one’s worth is not found in a multitude of admirers. I would be lying to say that I don’t want male attention. And at times, the lack of Christian suitors has been a blow to my pride.

Side note:

And it doesn’t help that more often than not, the men who’ve been the most aggressive about their intentions, have been non-Christians.

(The whole issue of Christian-friendship-dating-ambiguity is another topic for another day…a future post. However, as a woman who’s been on the receiving end of said ambiguity, the experience can be frustrating.)

-But-

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that attraction is more than an equation of pleasing symmetry and harmonious parts…physical beauty. It’s a little more complicated than that.

I wished that I had realized that sooner.

I wished that I had realized that a man’s lack of interest wasn’t due to my lack of physical beauty, witty conversation, or whatever.  If I had realized that attraction is complex, I probably wouldn’t have taken “rejection” so personally.

So, if you find yourself in a circumstance of unrequited affection, try not to take it personally.  Just because someone is not pursuing you or isn’t romantically attracted to you, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

Contentment Is Not The Absence Of Desire

Single people come from a variety of backgrounds.

  • Some are young, old, have children, etc.
  • Some singles are very happy with their “relationship status”, but others struggle…

For those who struggle, we’re often told that we should be content in whatever state we find ourselves.  But what does that mean?

For many years I thought the following was true:

Being a content single means that you will no longer desire (or struggle with the desire) to be married and/or have children.

I no longer believe that this is what it means to be content.

I believe that being content means to believe in the sovereignty and the goodness of God no matter your circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances are pleasant and other times they are painful.  And singleness is sometimes painful.

Pain is not necessarily bad. In fact there will always be some measure of tension when we long for something we do not have.  And many times God uses that tension to refine us.

Consider, when it comes to music, sometimes the most beautiful moments in a musical piece is a moment of dissonance- a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord merriam-webster . Just like in music, sometimes the most beautiful moments of life can be a season of- clashing or unresolved desires.

I’ve spent a lot of unnecessary energy trying to resolve or take away the dissonance of my singleness.  However, I’m not sure that God was asking me to resolve my dissonance. Instead, I’m learning how to live in and embrace the dissonance.

I’m learning how to surrender in the midst of an unresolved desire.

So, if you are a single person who struggles with your singleness, it’s okay that you struggle. Your mission is not to eradicate that sensation, but instead embrace the dissonance.  Let that struggle refine you.

That being said, if you find yourself becoming bitter and resentful, don’t struggle alone.  Find someone-a counselor, a mentor, friends, etc. to help  you walk to a place of wholeness.

And realize that this struggle is a journey. It’s not a fixed moment in time, a life altering decision. It’s a day to day decision to believe in the sovereignty and goodness of God whether you are in a state of pleasure or pain.

To be continued…Part 2

Knowing The Will of God

Bible

I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

At some point in your life you’ll find yourself at the proverbial crossroad, wondering…which way do I go? Perhaps you may feel a nudge in a particular direction, but more often than not, you may be met with silence. Believe it or not, there are some tried and true ways to discern the will of God.

Back in the day, I had the opportunity to do Experiencing God a few times.  Henry Blackaby, the author, had some good ideas about discerning God’s will. He says that God speaks through the

  • Holy Spirit
  • The Bible
  • Prayer
  • Circumstances

Specifically, when it comes to reading the Bible, I’ll admit I’m not always as consistent as I should be. However, I’ve started to use some practical  Bible Study methods that have helped me  to be more consistent.

There’s an App for that

A few months ago, I got my first iPhone…RIP blackberry :(. If you have a smart phone or a tablet, you should check into getting one of the many Bible apps that have been created.  I personally use YouVersion.  (You can also access YouVersion via the web if that format works better.)

With YouVersion, you can subscribe to a number of Bible studies (devotionals).  Some are short. Some are long.  You can also set up your account to remind you to do your reading throughout the week.

Another cool feature is that you can use the audio function for the day’s reading. This function has been convenient because I can listen to my daily devotion while I’m getting ready for work  or during my commute in the car.

*There are many apps to choose from, but below are links to one’s that I have personally used.

YouVersioneBible

Get On The Bus

So now that you’ve found a good Bible app or a good devotion series, what do you do next? How do you actually study the Bible?

Years ago, I went to a woman’s retreat at my church.  The speaker shared some tips about how to study the Bible. Specifically she called her method the Bible Bus Stop. (Although she references the One Year Bible as her devotion source, her tips can be applied to any Bible passage.) Overall, she encourages readers to be intentional in their study of God’s word.  In addition, she lists a number of questions to ask yourself as you are reading to help you apply what you’ve learned (see below).

Bus Stop Guide

  • What did I learn about God today in my reading?
  • What did I learn about life?
  • What did I learn about myself, attitudes, priorities, fears, failures, or desires?
  • Is there a lesson that I can apply today?
  • What can I take from my reading and pray back to God for understanding, instructions, or help?

So, if you have struggled with consistent Bible reading, hopefully these tips will help.

Overall, I think it’s important to spend time reading the word of God.  After all, how can I obey God or live out His will for my life if I don’t take the time to read His instruction manual…a.k.a the Bible? 🙂

If you have a devotion tip or sources that have been helpful to you, please leave a comment in the comment section.

Image:created with graphics from  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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