Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Jesus enough?

I was driving the other day and flipped on the Christian music station. A woman was doing an interview with a local band and as I listened to the interview something that the singer said really irked me. The dj told him that his music did not sound Christian. She said it was much more edgy and dance like than other Christian artists. His reply was what did me in. He said that their group really wants to draw in a younger crowd. They are attracted to the music and then they get to share the gospel with them. This made me upset.

Before I tell you why, I want to say that this is something Todd and I have been thinking and talking about for a while. This is not something I am targeting at any one church in particular. I think this is a pretty prevalent thing in Christian culture in general. And when Todd and I have approached this subject with people they tend to get angry and think that we are attacking them or judging them. That is not my intent. I just want us to think about the way we approach sharing the gospel and see if it lines up with scripture.

Here is what I think: We as Christians think that we need something to catch an unbelievers attention. We need to draw them in and then we can share the gospel with them. We need good music, a flashy video, a humorous drama, a charismatic preacher. We need something to catch their eye. We need to be fun, funny, hip and cool. We will not say this, but in essence I think sometimes, some of us think Jesus, alone, is not enough. We cannot simply point to Jesus. Is Jesus enough? Strip away every flashy show we can put on. Take away any of our efforts and ask, do we believe that Jesus has what this unbelieving world needs? Or do we think he needs our help?

Now before you get angry and defensive let me say I think that artist on the radio had good intentions. And I think if you asked him the above questions he would probably say Jesus is enough. I would say that, and you would probably agree with me. But think about the way we talk. I have found myself saying things like draw them in and then share the gospel.

Now I have nothing against a church or a person being relevant to the culture. Obviously scripture gives us clear places where people became like the people they were ministering to in order to share Jesus with them. Obviously if you are a missionary to China you need to speak Chinese. But how often do we package or box up the gospel in order to present it in just the perfect way? Do we miss the holy spirit prodding us to simply point to Jesus because we don't have a perfect package with us at the moment?

What would our Churches look like if on Sunday morning we walked in and the pastor simply read directly from God's word?

Romans 3:10
"As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one.'"

Romans 3:21-24
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

What if, instead of trying to prove to our friends that Christians are hip and cool, we simply share with them that there is a reason for hope? There was a man who lived and died and rose again. He did all of this because all of us have sin. Sin eats away at life and separates us from God. Sin destroys and wounds and hurts, but Jesus came to wash away our sins and makes us as white as snow. He came to heal and restore and redeem our very lives. He is what an unbelieving world needs. They do not need better music, better videos, better sermons. They need a savior. And they need someone to show him that savior.

The church (meaning the whole body of Christ) is beautiful. I love the church. I think that the church throughout history and now has done so many wonderful things. The church helps the poor, helps the sick, helps the wounded and broken hearted. The church helps orphans and widows and the lonely. But they do all of this because of the love Christ has for us. The moment one of us does these things or anything else because of any other motivation we have moved away from the calling. (1st Corinthians 13:3)The moment we think that we have anything else this world needs other than Jesus we have missed the calling. There will always be better music, better speakers, better videos, and even nicer people (yes I said that). The world can offer so much more than we can in terms of those things. But what the world does not have is an answer to the longings of the heart. A hope for our sin and brokenness. The church and the body of Christ alone has that answer. The answer is Jesus Christ. He is what we need and he is more than enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Small blessings

I was definitely at the end of my rope a few weeks ago. I stated in a previous post all that was ensuing and there was more going on that I did not share, but one day I snapped. Not in a bad way. But I did. I called Todd and said we need to find a babysitter for Saturday night. I need some time without these kids and some time alone with you. We try to have date nights, but anyone with kids knows that sometimes it is so much work to go out without the kids that we just do not do it.

First you have to find a sitter.
Don't get me wrong. We have a number of wonderful, reliable people on hand who are more than willing to jump at the opportunity to watch our kids. Just last weekend we had to find a sitter for something. I asked one of my dearest friends and had three other friends ask me, after the fact, if they could babysit. One even wanted me to cancel the people I had asked because she said she wanted to do it so badly. So we have people willing to do it. People even desiring to do it. But often I feel bad for asking. I feel like we are taking away someones time and inconveniencing them. I am not sure why. I do not feel that way when I am asked to watch a friends child. But I just think like that.

Also I worry about the kids. They generally do really well with most of the people we have watch them, but there has been a time or two that went really poorly and resulted in us having to return home early because of something that was going on. In Claire's first year of life we rarely ever left her with anyone. She had occasional moments where she would stop breathing and choke. So she hardly ever left my side, even at night.

In would say there is a second reason but really the sitter thing is it.

In saying all of this I am trying to get to the point that I snapped and asked Todd for a night out. We found a sitter and quickly arranged for a nice time without kids. A few days later we found out that we were going to have the opportunity for four weekends in a row of date nights. We have been through two and this weekend we get a whole night alone with the kids. Elizabeth has been begging to sleep over at my moms and this weekend it worked out. Of course to my delight Elizabeth insisted that her sister come too. :) Yeah for a whole night alone with my hubby.

My point in all of this is that these date nights have really given me a boost. I have something to look forward to and the nights themselves have been so refreshing to me and our marriage.

But why as moms do we not take care of ourselves more? Why is it that I needed to snap to ask for some alone time? Why can't I just do that all the time? I don't know. But I do know this... anyone willing to babysit just need ask. I have a new attitude about date night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patricks Day

I am not Irish and I do not drink beer so St. Patty's day holds very little meaning for me. It was, however, the day after St. Patrick's day 4 years ago that I found out I was expecting Elizabeth. She changed my life forever and made me a mommy. Today I did not do anything particularly Irish and I did not even wear green. But I did thank God that he gave me this precious little girl. Even though I was not really planning on becoming a mommy that day he thankfully did not listen to my plans.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

PG 13

I want to preface this post by saying the things I am going to talk about are not going to be crude, but they are not intended for young eyes.

As I stated in some of my previous posts I want to state again that I am not an expert on marriage. I am just a woman who is learning as I go and wants to share some of those nuggets with you. Hopefully some of what I have learned will help you. So here goes:

I think that sex has been absolutely distorted in our culture. It is used and abused, but not taught in healthy ways. Sex is not a dirty thing. It was a gift, from God, given to man and woman to be expressed within marriage. Within the context of a healthy, thriving, loving, marriage relationship, sex is a blessing. With that being said I think that we have totally lost sight of the purpose and blessing of sex within our culture.

To the unmarried:

For one thing, if you are unmarried you ought not to be having sex. This is hot button topic. I know that many who will read this may be offended by it. And I know that the majority of Americans are not virgins on their wedding night and that means that most of those who read this have probably had sex outside of marriage. God clearly intended for sex to be within the context of a commited marriage. He states it very clearly in the Bible. Ephesians 5:3 "But among you there most not even be a hint of sexual immorality..." (NIV) Over and over again we are given instructions on the proper context for sexual union. I think anyone who has had sex will agree that sex is not just a physical act. It can be distorted so much and someone can become so hardened by it that they treat it that way, but it is not. When you have sex with someone you are bearing your whole self to them. You are opening up your heart, your mind, and your body and allowing another person to become a part of you. When sex takes place between an unmarried man and woman that union and bond still exists, but the commitment and level of trust does not. Our society is so full of broken relationships, broken marriages and broken hearts and so much of it can be traced back to this topic. A man and woman unite and afterwards they part. More often than not, because of our unique differences, the man is able to move on and the woman is left feeling broken and alone and like she is missing something. She is. She gave herself to that man. And when he left she feels so bonded and connected to him still. This brokenness was not what God intended. He intended for sex to be shared between two people who trust one another and are committed for life. There is something so unique about this sin. It destroys someone in both spirit and body. 1st Corinthians 6:18 "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (NIV)

With all of that being said, I need to say that there is hope. God offers grace to those who seek him. He restores the broken and hurting. I am not saying that sexual sin is worse than any other sin. My sin of anger or lying or resentment is just as powerful as any sexual sin, but sexual sin often has such greater and more far reaching consequences. 2nd Corinthians 4:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV) If you have sinned in this way and want to seek forgiveness as the Lord. If you are still struggling and need help talk to a trusted Christian friend or your pastor.

To the married:

YOU OUGHT TO BE HAVING SEX. I know that for most men this particular commandment of God is pretty easy. They enjoy sex, crave sex, think about it and need it. Women also need sex and enjoy it, but it is on a whole different level. For a woman, particularly one with young children sex can feel like another thing on her "to do list." She knows she should be having sex. She knows her husband needs it. She knows he really wants to. But just to be honest more often than not by the end of the day she has prepared, served and cleaned up three meals, wiped butts and noses, did 5 or more loads of laundry, two or more loads of dishes, chauffered, worked, and tried to train young minds for life and rightousness. Frankly at the end of the day it takes all of her strength just to change into her nightgown and climb into bed. And then it happens. He catches a glimpse of her changing from her spit up stained sweats into some old tshirt and he gets instantly attracted. (On a side note, ladies if we stop and think about, it aren't you glad that he still finds you attractive even though if we are brutally honest we have probably not shaved our legs, or worn makeup and maybe have not even showered.) Then he comes over and starts to caress and love and she is thinking all I want to do is climb into bed and fall asleep. "Does he not know that baby will probably be up in three hours?" Four things can happen at this moment.

Scenario one:
Wife: "Oh no. I am soooo tired and I cannot even think about that right now. Not tonight, I have a headache."
Husband: THINKING: "This is third night in a row she has rejected me. I must be doing something she doesn't like. Maybe she is not that attracted to me anymore. I have put on a little weight."

In this scene the wife is not thinking anything about rejecting her husband. More than likely she is just not in the mood. (And it requires a lot more effort and fore thought to put a woman in the mood than it does a man. I have heard it said like this, "A woman is like an oven, she takes a while to warm up. A man is like a microwave. Always hot and always ready instantly.") Even though she is not thinking about rejecting him, he takes it that way. A man spells love SEX. He feels most connected to his wife and most loved by her when they have sex. A woman spells love TALK. She connects best to her man through conversation. To say I am not in the mood for sex feels, to your man, like it feels when he is not in the mood to talk to you. If he told you over and over again he did not want to talk to you, you would start to feel rejected. He feels the same.

Scenario Two:
Wife: "Okay, but we better make it quick."
This is the scene that any married woman may be familiar with. You know he wants sex, so you give him what he wants. But what we fail to realize in this scene is that he is not just wanting sex. He does not want a lifeless interaction. What he wants is to connect with you. He wants to connect with his wife and feel loved and close to her. (This is not to say that sex always has to be long and drawn out. Someone very wise once told us, "Sex is like a meal, sometimes you get to sit down to have steak and potato, but sometimes all you get is the drive through at Mcdonalds." Mcdonalds satisfies for the moment, but you cannot survive on that alone.) If we always give our husbands burgers and fries they will crave steak and potato. And our marriages will not survive.

Scenario Three:
Wife: THINKING "I am so tired, but I do love him and just a few minutes of closeness would be nice."
In this scene the wife is pleasantly suprised that when she allows herself to step away from all the cares of the day she can enjoy her husband and allow him to enjoy her. Connection and closeness occur and our marriages are made more secure. And our husbands feel more confident and loving towards us as a result. If getting there is an issue maybe you need to make some preparations. Maybe you can tell him you would like to take a bath alone first to help you relax and be more prepared to be alone with him. Or whatever it may be that will help you relax and get in the mood. Maybe it is candles, maybe if he does the dishes and helps put the kids to bed you will feel more inclined. If that be the case tell him in advance. Most men will jump to do dishes as quickly as possible if they think that is what you need to be in the mood that night.

Scenario Four:
Now because I know that not every moment is cookie cutter and there are legitimate times when sex is not an option, I have included a fourth scene.
Wife: "Hunny, I adore you and a little closeness would be so nice, but I have to be up in three hours and I do not think I could enjoy it tonight. Lets make a date for tomorrow night."This is not ideal and if you never follow through it will lose its appeal altogether, but at least in this scene it awknowledges your husbands feelings and gives him something to look forward to.

Now what are you waiting for? Make some preparations to be alone with your man. I am sure he will thank you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So just a bit of real, honesty. I am feeling like I am at the end of my rope. Many things have coincided to bring me to this point, but here I am.

1. For about 6 months Elizabeth has been having these random stomach pains. We struggled to find a solution and even thought at times she was making it up. I had kind of become numb to them and pretty much considered them something she said when she was sad, or wanted to get out of something, like bedtime. But in the last month they have become extreme. It started with her waking up in the night screaming about the pain. This went on and also she started crying at random times throughout the day. Sometimes they are so severe she is doubled over in pain screaming at the top of her lungs. We have taken her to the pediatrician and they did a full food allergy panel and blood tests. We go to the doc on Friday to get results. I am anxious. I want to find something. Not because I want something to be wrong or because I want her to have an allergy, but because I need to know what can make it better. Some days she is so whiney and crabby and has not been her loving, happy self for a while. I have just about lost patience with her. I know that she is in pain at times, but I stuggle because I think sometimes she uses the pain as an out. If her belly hurts she gets attention and it delays bedtime. We have eliminated dairy products. I honestly do not think that the dairy helped much, but I also decided to eliminate juice. It seemed like it helped to cut out juice, but then she was constipated. (Another regular problem) And then I had to give her prune juice. That helped the constipation, but the next two days she had severe belly aches.

2. I am pretty sure if I hear another "Mom, I was playing with that." I will scream. I know that I am not the only parent to have ever dealt with sibling rivalry, but at this point I am so done with it. Part of the problem is that Claire is only 18 months. She is still trying to grasp the concept of sharing and has a hard time when Elizabeth gets anything she does not have. Claire also has gotten her own big temper at this point. When she gets mad she will hit and sometimes I hear Elizabeth screaming from the other room because Claire has found some object to beat her with. Now I am sure Elizabeth probably deserved it because she has given her fair share of abuse to her sister, but I am struggling to find something that works to teach her.

3. I am at a stand still at weight loss. I am down 60 lbs. I was hoping to lose another 10, but it just does not seem to be working. I don't want to get frustrated and fed up, but at times I am. I know that I will never have perfect body, but we all have concepts of what we want to look like and I am just not there yet. I am not giving up. But I am frustrated. Maybe my frustration will push me to work harder, but many days it makes me do worse. Just keep swimming, right?

4. I am a bit lonely. I have an incredible family. I have a great church. I have great friends, but the past few months things have not clicked well. Let me explain our church attendance has been spotty the past few months because it seems like every other week one child or another is sick. My very best friend and I have been on different schedules because of work and kids starting school. My two best girlfriends, who are single with no kids, have been working a lot and we just cannot seem to make our "breaks" coincide. I am not alone. But I feel a bit lonely. Before kids we were surrounded in community. We did ministry and had small groups. With kids it just seems like it is so much harder. We tried a small group at our new church and liked it, but one of us spent the whole time in the other room with the kids because Claire was not used to the sitter and could not stop crying. We are going to keep trying if we can ever be healthy long enough. I know we are all created for community. I know I am craving something good. And part of the problem is I am an extrovert to the max. I crave people. I crave conversation and being around people I can share things with. It engergizes me. It gives me joy. Being home with kids all days can be draining. But when I am doing it with someone it is easier. Being a mom is a lonely job sometimes. I know that some people really do not mind being alone and actually crave it. But I sometimes just think up reasons to go to Target because I crave adult interaction. Am I crazy? Or has anyone else thought that?

I don't want to sound like I am complaining. I have an incredible life. I am truly blessed. I just feel like I am about to lose it. Hopefully "it" includes 10 lbs.