Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Be Kind to Our Earth

As all of you know, yesterday was Earth Day. It is a day that we are encouraged to have awareness for how we treat and take care of our home planet.

However, sometimes I feel like as Christians we tend to ignore the subject of taking care of the earth because it's more of a “Liberal Thing”. I will admit there were quite a few things that have given caring for the earth a bad name. Yet, I think it is something that we must also do.

Everything in our natural world was created by God for us. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

And so says verse 28: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

So, we see that God told us that we are in charge of the earth. So, that would mean we could do whatever we wanted, right? I mean, can we just kill as many animals as we want and waste what we want?


Proverbs 12:10 says, "Whoever is righteous has regard for his beast. But the mercy of the wicked is cruel."

And, "Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds." (Proverbs 27:23)

We see here that it is very wrong to treat animals cruelly. Animals were given to us from God for food, and companionship; yet, we see that we don't need to torture or prolong suffering.

There are other verses that discuss treating animals with respect (Leviticus 22:27-28, Deuteronomy 22:6-7).

We also see how God reprimanded Balaam in Numbers 22:32-33 for not only disobeying God, but God also got onto him for abusing his donkey-when the donkey saved his life.

The bible also implies many places not to be wasteful with the blessings God has given us. When we become wasteful with the blessings of God, we are, in way, taking it for granted and not showing thankfulness for it (Luke 16:1-9, Luke 15:11-16). This could also go for how some people in the world over hunt animals, or cut down so many trees without replanting.

When you study ecology and how everything is set up in the natural world, it's easy to see how one extinction of a plant or animal can cause such a negative affect on everything else.  For instance, if a species of frog died out somewhere, there could be a huge increase of mosquitoes and other biting insects, raising the potential for even more disease. Or, if a plant died out that was a huge source of food for a particular animal, that animal too could die out. It causes a ripple effect.

Extinction has been occurring for thousands of years. However, that doesn't mean we should encourage it or just do nothing. God loves all of his creation, and deemed it "good" in Genesis. While we have been given charge over the natural world in which we live, that doesn't mean we can just go and kill everything and expect God to be pleased with wasting it all away. With great power comes great responsibility.

Recently, a woman was arrested in our county for the mistreatment of animals. The shocking thing was that she was running a place that was supposed to be a safe haven for animals without a home. There were dead animal carcasses apparently in her home and all over the place, as well as sick and dying ones.

Based on some of the verses above, do you think God was pleased with how this woman was treating the animals supposed to be under her care? No!

While I admit taking care of our natural world has been given a bad name by certain people and movements, it's still something that we should care about. If someone is doing something disrespectful to the creation that God has bestowed upon us, we SHOULD be upset about it! We as Christians can't  ignore issues that must be discussed and taken care of. Teach your children to take care of and be gentle to animals. Teach them not to be wasteful. God gave this world to us to take care of, and take care of it we must!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Behold, the Bridegroom COMETH!

The image to the left is wonderful. It speaks of something wonderful that we all must be reminded of.

There are many ways I can go with this, but I'd like to start out with an all too familiar parable:

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all be came drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet Him!' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves. And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But He answered, "Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:1-12)

On their wedding days, most brides want it to go as smoothly and perfect as possible. They wear a beautiful white dress and veil, and make sure their hair is perfect. They want to look beautiful for the moment they meet their groom for the first time and enter into wedded bliss. Much preparation is usually put into this special occasion with everything-not even just the look of the bride. It includes decor, food, music, flowers...every last detail perfect, showcasing the love the two have for one another.

How often do we stop to think about the other marriage we as Christian women must attend to? As members of the Lord's body, we are the bride of Christ! (2nd Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27) How much preparation and thought do we put into making sure we are ready when our Lord returns? As the parable above describes, we must be prepared! We must have every detail taken care of, and our hearts cleansed and beautified to meet our Lord.

The wise virgins obviously loved and cared very much for the man about to become their Groom. They spent so much time preparing and making themselves ready for His arrival. The foolish however, it's obvious they didn't care as much as they should have, or they would have been prepared.

The truth is, we don't know when Christ will come back and claim His bride. Jesus doesn't even know when Himself (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36, 2nd Peter 3:10). Shouldn't we strive to be ready at all times? We mustn't be like the foolish virgins who were ill prepared.

Consider often what you are doing. What if Jesus were to come back at that very moment? What would He find you doing? Will you be doing some sinful act that God would not have you do? Where would that put you if He came back at that moment? Scary to think about, isn't it?

No body is perfect, but the key is to always be doing the best we can to do right in the eyes of the Lord. Draw near to Him, and always ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to help you be better where you are weakest. Do your best to be as beautiful in heart that you can be when He finally returns.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

REJOICE in the Lord always, and AGAIN I say REJOICE!

Right now, from a spiritual perspective, our world isn't doing so well. I scroll down on Facebook and see so many talking about everything going on lately in this sin-sick world.

Yet, with everything going on, how often do we pause to just praise God? How often do we stand outside for a moment and take in with awe the wide, blue sky above, or even the power of a storm (or anything in nature for that matter)? How often do we just randomly break out in song with exultation? How often to we stop just to say 'thank you' for everything He's given us and blessed us with? How often do we pause to thank God for the good that comes out of something bad? 

It is so easy to fall into the trap of getting depressed and down about the bad things-so much so to the point that we simply forget how big, great, awesome and WONDERFUL our Savior is!

Consider these verses:

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!"-Philippians 4:4

"Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the righteous!"-Psalm 33:1

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content."-Philippians 4:11

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds."-James 1:2

It can be hard to be joyful in the hard times. Yet, with God we have salvation, worth, and everlasting love. Isn't that reason enough to be joyful? Only God can give that peace and joy that is continuous no matter the situation (Philippians 4:7).

When you read some of the most faithful people in the bible like Job, Joshua, Jeremiah, David, Daniel, Peter, and Paul, what is something that all of them have in common? Even in harder times, they still praised God with everything in them! Even when things got difficult, they still found it in them to praise God and find joy. 

We must take more time to fall even more in love with God and to praise Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we understand and develop the joy that comes from Him-no matter the circumstance.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Swimwear Dress Code at Camp...Why?

The issue I'm about to bring up may cause some divided reactions. Yet, I feel the need to bring it up.

I think a lot of us know the issue dealing with swimwear, and how most of it really isn't modest at all. However, I want to put forth an issue you may have not thought about before.

At bible camps every summer, I know that most of them have separated swim times-which is great, and definitely helps the opposite genders out a lot with lust issues.

However, have many of us ever paused to think about those who may be struggling with same sex attraction?

I'm sure it's hard to even fathom this even happening in the church.  I'm very sure that even in the church, there are those-especially our young people-that are struggling with this, yet many are too ashamed to ask for help and prayers. This is a HUGE issue nowadays and can't be ignored.

Don't believe it? I've actually heard and know of kids who've gone to different camps (unbeknownst to the counselors) that have admitted to having issues with this. Very few seem to realize this though (or maybe don't really want to).

I believe when it comes to swim time, especially for the girls, there needs to be a dress code for swimwear. At the very least, they shouldn't be allowed to wear the itsy-bitsy bikinis leaving very little to the imagination, or the so-called “mono-kinis” (one piece swimsuits that cover as much as a bikini does).

It may seem silly, but really think about it-everyone has sins they struggle with. Christian camps should be a spiritual safe-haven for those who come. The week should be uplifting for them and encouraging so that when they leave, they feel strengthened to stand against temptation-not feeling discouraged and wondering why they can't get a break.

We don't want to push these kids away. So why put them in an environment that will make it all the more difficult for them? I know of a few young people that have left the church because of same sex attraction issues. Because they weren't getting any help or encouragement, or fear of being shunned, they eventually gave up and left, acting on their temptations.

Sure, it was their decision to leave, but we as Christians MUST be a light of kindness, love, and encouragement to other people-especially our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:10). I don't think we will want to stand before God one day knowing that we were hateful or uncaring towards those that needed our help. We must allow God to use us to help other people-even if it's as simple as what do for our kids at camp.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Judging and Lack of Self-Control: The Precursors to Gossip

I've written about gossip before, and how it can destroy lives. We know that it's not a pastime that brings about anything good.

Yet, I think to really nip it in the bud is to figure out how it starts.

First of all, I think one of the main things that starts it is being overly judgmental.

There are so many women who judge a situation and/or before they know the full story, and then open their mouths to elaborate what they ABSOLUTELY know is the complete, undeniable truth.

For instance, Lady A sees Lady B having lunch in public with a guy who isn't her husband. Lady A then freaks out and decides to call everyone she knows that Lady B is having an affair with someone.

The truth? The guy is actually a friend of Lady B's and they're on a lunch break and decided to have lunch together. Nothing romantic is going on at all.  Yet, now, because Lady A decided to open  her mouth, Lady B's reputation is ruined and her friends will never look at her the same way.

What would have been the correct way to handle it? Lady A should have kept quiet and approached Lady B and actually asked her what was going on.

I believe jumping the gun and judging others is how so many vicious rumors get started.

Jesus says, "Judge not, that you not be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your [sister's] eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or, how can you say to your [sister] 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first, take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your [sister's] eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

We need to be extra careful when we decide to judge others. Jesus says to remember that the judgment you make "will be measured back to you." Nobody is perfect. In some ways, especially if they're a sister or brother in Christ, sometimes, we may have to do some judging in terms of helping them to become a better Christian. Yet, Jesus also says to make sure that you're not doing the same thing, and/or to make sure that your heart is in the right place and you are approaching it in the correct way.

Yet, here's the thing: if you don't feel as if you can approach it in the correct way, or have no idea how to, just let it go and don't do anything yet. Just pray that God will help you find the way or bring things to light in His own way.

Also, leading from being judgmental, it also stems from issues of lacking self-control.

Most of the time, gossip begins with judging, and then turns into this insatiable desire to share the drama with everyone. And until that lust for sharing the drama is quenched for a short time, they run their mouths to everyone.

We as Christians are commanded to develop self-control. (2nd Timothy 2:17, 2nd Peter 1:6, Galatians 5:22-23, 2nd Timothy 3:2-3, Proverbs 25:28)

A lack of self-control is a sin. It is a problem that leads to so many other sins: greed, fornication, wrath, and so many more. How can we possibly live for God the way we should if we can't develop self-control?

We as Christians must train ourselves to stop and think before we do or say anything! It is so imperative that we develop this in ourselves.

This is what it boils down to:

Gossip can be stopped in these ways:
A. Stop jumping to extreme conclusions to every situation we encounter.
B. Ask God to help you figure out how to handle a situation that actually does need dire help-don't run to or text everyone you know and spread everything. Just ask for His guidance.
C. Exercise self-control, and insert foot in mouth. If you're unsure about something, just don't say it.