Eye for an Eye

I saw a similar bumper sticker this morning…This is Old Testament law…

23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. ~Ex. 21:23-25

The New Testament says…

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. ~Mt. 5:38-39

Not only physically and verbally, but also in spirit. If someone or something frustrates us, we shouldn’t fly off the handle about it or get defensive. Many things are inconvenient in life, and we just have to deal with it. It’s usually not worth getting all worked up over every little thing that doesn’t go our way – or the way we think they should go, or how fast we think they should go.

Primping – How Much is Too Much?

Fancy hairdos, jewelry, and fine clothing is pretty much poo-poo’d in the bible. So would this be wrong to wear?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. ~ 1 Peter 3:3

So how much is too much? Obviously we have to wear clothes. Going naked certainly would be even more of a shocker in the eyes of strict Christians, no doubt! I respect the belief of the Amish, but I don’t think we all need to go to that extreme either. I think when we place too much importance on what we’re wearing, that is when there’s a real issue. We don’t need to care so little that we dress in rags or are a disheveled mess wherever we go. I prefer to dress for comfort and to look comfortably put together. I don’t seek out popular designer labels, and I prefer not to have the name of any designer outwardly visible if at all possible. Even if I had much to hang out, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting it. My cleavage (or lack thereof) is not what I want people to notice just as much as I don’t want to advertise who made my clothes or accessories.

There are some other religions that don’t wear any jewelry (not even wedding bands). It’s funny … I don’t wear a lot of jewelry most of the time as it is, but I like to make it. I rarely put earrings in and if we go out anywhere, I’ll put on my wedding ring and maybe a bracelet or necklace that I’ve made. Occasionally, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll put a ring on my other hand. :D

The hair is another story. I don’t do braids, and I entertained the notion of letting it go gray naturally. Then I couldn’t take it anymore and covered the gray with a color as close to my natural color as I could get. However, I do pull my hair back to get it out of my face, and I fasten it with some sort of hair clip. I’m not concerned about drawing attention to it – just getting it out of my face. I considered putting highlights in it again and even made an appointment for later this month, but I think I’m going to cancel that and just keep up with the cheap, store-bought remedy for the grays.

Bottom line for me… I prefer a classy, slightly trendy, pulled-together look for myself in fashions that aren’t too young or too old for my age and that work with my body type. Simple, no muss/no fuss works for me! Every now and then, I may add a tiny bit of bling to accessorize. On the other hand, if you happen to drop by when I’m working during the day, you’ll likely find me in comfy pants and a plain old T-shirt. This verse doesn’t mention makeup, but even that is fairly minimal for me. Just enough to highlight my eyes and even out skin tone for the most part to look as natural as possible. And there you have it! Not plain Jane, but not one to seek attention by my appearance.

The more I think about it, I’m gathering a different meaning. You can spend an extraordinary amount of time primping and adorning yourself until you feel beautiful on the outside, but it means nothing if you don’t possess inner beauty that shines through all of that!

Lead a Quiet Life – Depend on No One

I posted this passage on Facebook a couple weeks ago but since I delete things from my wall routinely (just because), I want to save my thoughts here instead.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Before reading any commentary, what this says to me is to keep your ego in check. Don’t be boastful and proud. Confidence is is a great thing, but to be over-confident is not. Likewise, don’t be lazy and dependent on others. It’s great when others are willing and able to help you out in life, but don’t take advantage of that. Show your gratitude and always try to return the favor whenever possible. I don’t like to depend on others and rarely ask for help or “handouts”. I don’t ask for help much because I’m picky and want things done a certain way. I don’t ask for handouts because … well, it just feels wrong to me and always has. I don’t want to be perceived as needy or a burden on others, and I don’t want to be indebted to anyone.

Then I looked up the Matthew Henry commentary on this passage.

“Of quietness and industry in their callings. Observe, 1. The apostle exhorts to these duties: that they should study to be quiet, 1 Thessalonians 4:11. It is the most desirable thing to have a calm and quiet temper, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behaviour. This tends much to our own and others’ happiness; and Christians should study how to be quiet. We should be ambitious and industrious how to be calm and quiet in our minds, in patience to possess our own souls, and to be quiet towards others; or of a meek and mild, a gentle and peaceable disposition, not given to strife, contention, or division. Satan is very busy to disquiet us; and we have that in our own hearts that disposes us to be disquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. It follows, Do your own business.When we go beyond this, we expose ourselves to a great deal of inquietude. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men’s matters, generally have but little quiet in their own minds and cause great disturbances among their neighbours; at least they seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands; and yet this was what the apostle commanded them, and what is required of us also. Christianity does not discharge us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein. 2. The exhortation is enforced with a double argument; namely, (1.) So we shall live creditably. Thus we shall walk honestly, or decently and creditably, towards those that are without, 1 Thessalonians 4:12. This will be to act as becomes the gospel, and will gain a good report from those that are strangers, yea, enemies to it. Note, It is a great ornament to religion when the professors of it are of meek and quiet spirits, diligent to do their own business, and not busy-bodies in other men’s matters. (2.) We shall live comfortably, and have lack of nothing, 1 Thessalonians 4:12. People often by their slothfulness bring themselves into narrow circumstances, and reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants, when such as are diligent in their own business live comfortably and have lack of nothing. They are not burdensome to their friends, nor scandalous to strangers. They earn their own bread, and have the greatest pleasure in so doing.”

I wasn’t far off. I just used fewer words!

Are You Texting in Church?

Bible app on phone could raise this question!

No! I wasn’t texting or reading Facebook updates during church. :) I have a Bible app where I can take notes and even send versus to social network sites. I downloaded the YouVersion Bible app, which was promoted by LifeChurch. No more worrying about remembering to bring a pen. No more wasted paper. Everything I need – compact – easy! Technology!

Navigate to book & chapter. Select verse(s), then tap & hold or double tap to bring up menu.

 


Enter a title and notes.

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How to Pray | Matthew 6:5-8

Do you bow your head submissively, or do you lift your face & hands to the heavens?

When given The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, we’re told to pray in private:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

There are probably just as many references in the Bible to bowing in submission as there to lifting up faces and hands. When you raise both of your hands and hold them out, palms up, in private, what do you feel? If you’re out of shape, you probably tire quickly. :) But seriously, you may not feel much of anything. If you’re not too self-conscious to raise them in a group or in church, what do you feel? Exposed? Vulnerable? I do!

I understand that bowing our heads shows that we acknowledge that we are weak and the Lord reigns over us. There’s a place for that. When confessing our sins and praying for forgiveness, sure! When bringing requests to God in prayer (as in praying for the sick), we humble ourselves before Him by bowing our heads to show that we accept His will. When praising God, I can totally see lifting up our hands and faces to Him. Here’s an interesting article on “How We Pray“.

Bowing our heads, closing our eyes, and folding our hands may feel like hiding (praying in private). I get that. Lifting hands is hard for many because it’s out of their comfort zones. I get that, too. It’s easy to get “swept away” if you let go and just lift your hands, though. There’s an energy that fills you completely when you lift your hands in prayer. No matter what your beliefs are, you can’t deny this. Whether it’s the Holy Spirit filling us or other energy that runs through all existence in ways we will never understand, it is there. Either way, I believe it’s possible that it’s all one and the same.

A Shield Between Us and Our True Selves

Quote from Learning to Fall; The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons

“Sometimes it’s our very busyness that gets in the way of such a choice [choosing God]. Too often we anesthetize ourselves by setting up our lists and ambitions and accomplishments as a shield between us and our true selves. We strap ourselves into our carefully constructed identities for fear of letting go into the pain and wonder that awaits just the other side of our precious reserve. In a culture that recognizes busyness as the mark of importance and worth, it’s so easy to use our public identities–as professionals, as caretakers and volunteers, as overworked parents–to avoid all that’s troubling, complex, and mysterious in the world around us.”


Christmastime Is Here

Brand new Christmas cards & the best of intentions.

Once again, no Christmas cards were sent. Please know that it’s not because we don’t care. Those who have followed what’s been going on these past several months should understand. If you haven’t been following, you can catch up on the story of Greg’s job, my job, and Ali’s whirlwind ordeal on the blog. Can you imagine what a Christmas “Year in Review” letter would look like for us? Very long with a big mix of ups and downs. Besides, it’s all right here in the blog already. :)

All the years I thought about materialism during the holidays, I continued to over-indulge my family with way more than necessary. I didn’t want them to feel like poor little Tiny Tims while all their friends bragged about how great Santa was to them each year. Not that they came close to that even if I had cut the giving in half, but you get what I mean. We’re all learning a hard lesson this year! Hopefully it will be a blessing in disguise, and they will all learn that more is not necessarily better. There really IS more to the season.

It’s also hard that since this all happened so suddenly, the bonus we usually used as Christmas money is nonexistent this year. So not only are the gifts limited within our own house, we had to cut spending on extended family completely. There wasn’t even time to go the hand-made gift route.

Not to be all “boo-hoo” and poor pitiful us, though. I don’t want to be that person! I feel sad for the drastic change, even though my kids all say they understand and don’t mind. However, we have a new beginning. I know things could be worse. Trust me … I realize this and am extremely grateful for what we have and what we didn’t lose. I can still feel sorrow and go through the “grief” period. It wouldn’t be natural or healthy if I didn’t. What helped the most were comments like, “I understand you’re going through some rough times. I’m sorry.” Those who simply lent an ear or a shoulder, asked how we were doing, and just prayed for us helped a lot.

When I started this post, my intention was to stay away from the Debbie Downer stuff, but I think I had to get that out. My wish for all of us and everyone we know is that we all slow down, breathe, and really notice everything (and I’m not talking about the dust & clutter). Take off the blinders we wear when we’re in a rush and absorb the whole picture! We can miss so much when we’re worried about trying to make things perfect.

God, grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Texas Hold ‘em | Poker Night with Fellow Christians

The Lord did not say, “Thou shalt not gamble!”

We are warned against greed, the love of money, and being irresponsible with what God gives us. These things become a huge issue with those addicted to gambling. It’s true. However, if you have limits which you adhere to and cheerfully put a large percentage (if not all) of your winnings in the offering pot as it comes by, there is no sin being committed by taking part in a poker game once per month with fellow Christians! Greg and I are a part of Colorado Christian Cardplayers 4 Christ poker league. We know and adhere to our limits and cheerfully place our winnings (if we win) into the offering pot!

Last night, I placed 3rd. Had to represent the ladies! Hollah! So I walked away with $20. I put 50% of that into the offering pot this morning, and am using the other 50% for my movie ticket to see Burlesque with my girles today.

Do not attempt to adjust your monitor. It is snowing on my blog. ‘Tis the season!

 

Putting Trust in God | One in a Million Women’s Study: Session 3

It will all work out.

We tend to try and manipulate situations so they will turn out the way we want them to, even if this means working through and dealing with some pretty rotten and tough times. We are impatient. When things don’t go our way, we tend to whine and complain. We need to shut up and listen. Sometimes we just need to step off and wait. Sometimes there’s a different plan for us. The people being led out of Egypt had this complaint in Exodus 14:10-12:

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!””

Like them, we tend to think we’d be better off suffering through hard times or staying in a bad situation just so we can try and control things and make them work out the way we want. Never mind that this could make for a lifetime of unhappiness. If we would only be still … stand still … and be patient. Open our eyes and see what God is doing in our lives right now. Even when we think He has abandoned us because all seems positively wretched at the moment, He is working in our lives. Don’t just focus on the one thing that has taken center stage at this moment in your life; step back and look at the entire stage … the entire theatre. Take off your blinders and pay attention to everything. Exodus 14:13-14 goes on…

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.””

I’m still not in a place where I am willing to let Him carry me (fight for me) because I don’t visualize it this way. I do accept that there is something greater than me and it is within me as well. I can even believe this to be a spirit. I’ve felt the profound effect but for some reason, I fight it. This profound effect isn’t that far off from the people you see on TV where the preacher is thumping them on the head casting out evil spirits and they’re crying out and falling on the floor. I’m not kidding! I think that between the stigma of that being “crazy” and totally unbelievable, staged, or fake and the simple fact that I would be handing over control, I’ve found my hang up with the whole thing.

It will be interesting to see where this journey leads me.

Worry Addressed in the Bible

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Oh, to be a bird in the air or a flower growing in a field! But we’re not. However, the human ideal of what we must do to survive – no … to merely exist is blown entirely out of proportion fed by desire alone. All forms of media tell us we must have the latest and greatest gadgets, and we must dress in the finest clothes and wear the finest, most expensive jewels. Do you ever wonder why trends change? Money! Those who are easily molded into the epitome of the latest look have spent as much money as they’re going to on achieving that look. So a new look must be fashioned. Wanting to be accepted or noticed, those same people will give away or sell their old stuff and purchase new stuff. A lot of my stuff, I’m not ashamed to say, comes from Target, Walmart, Ross, and Marshalls. I’m not one to go out and buy something from an expensive store in a mall just because Peggy Sue Mergatroid is wearing the exact same thing. I seriously don’t get that way of thinking anyway. Why would I want to wear something just because someone else is wearing it? I want to wear things that look and feel good on me. “Oh, but it’s all the rage!” you say? And your point is…?

That may have strayed a bit from the verses above, but I felt the urge to express that thought!

My next thought is on verse 34 alone: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” This is where most people stop with that verse, but it continues: “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So this is not telling us to just live our lives carefree or willy-nilly thinking that God will make sure our needs are met. We do have to tend to today and what is right in front of us. Unlike when Scarlett said, “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”, this isn’t a free pass to procrastinate or push all your cares away until it’s more convenient for you to deal with them. Tomorrow holds it’s own trouble, but you do have to deal with today’s troubles today.

Proverbs 12:25

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Worrying makes us anxious, and if you stop and pay attention to how you’re feeling when you’re in the midst of worrying about something, you will notice that your heart literally feels weighed down. You’ve all heard it described as a weight on one’s chest, right? Well, there ya go! Likewise, when you’re happy, you feel as if your heart is floating in your chest. Which would you rather feel a majority of the time?

Philippeans 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When you’re anxious, you tend to fear the worst possible outcome of whatever the situation may be. If you take the time to really think about it all, really put everything into proper perspective and count your blessings, then you’ll find that things generally don’t look quite so bad anymore. Remember what Maria sang to the Von Trapp kids about remembering her favorite things? Well that kind of positive thinking actually works! The peace of God truly does transcend all understanding. I don’t understand it myself, which is something I struggle with just accepting without needing to understand it. What helps me is this: I know that each who believes has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live and dwell within us. If you are of a faith that believes in a triune God, then you must know that this means God Himself is within us. I’m just going to let that one sit there.

Peace!