Sunday, March 12, 2017

193: reminder to self to not let sin become normal to me

Some more thoughts based off of the Facebook buzz these days:

The world acting like the world is not an excuse to accept it as okay for us. I often hear the phrase "all sin is equal," or a similar phrasing. While I think you could argue from Scripture that that is not accurate, even if it is, this phrase always seems to be used to 1) excuse sexual sin, or 2) point out the hypocrisy of making a bigger deal out of a behavior than an attitude.

But if we are going to argue that all sin is equal, then that should encourage us to become even more sensitive to the evil of sin, and to increase our fear of the Lord. It should not make us timid to take a personal stand against sin in fear that we are casting the first stone and ignoring the plank in our own eye. Our beliefs and convictions are not based on our perfection but God's holiness. It should make us more diligent to personally repent and recalibrate our lives as we see the contrast between God's holiness and our rebellion.

It's as if because we accept that the world is acting like the world, and that our pride is on par to other sins, that we then lay down our battle standards and accept sin as normal. Not just normal to the world. Just normal. Normal to us.

He had to DIE--God in the flesh--and yet we'll let sin entertain us? I bring up entertainment because that's what the conversation is about these days. I'm not talking about making every movie a Christian-themed movie or one where no character acts fallen. I'm talking about when the sin is part of the entertainment. When it becomes part of the turning off our minds and being fed as acceptable what Jesus had to die to deliver us from. When we become okay with that. Living in the world but not of it . . . except when we willingly breathe in the world's values from the comfort of our Christian homes as part of the pleasure of our souls.

I'm not even thinking about dictating to the world what movies should or should not be made, though as consumers we should let our voice be heard. And I'm not talking about "judging the world." I'm referring to when we as confessing believers are tempted to mindlessly submit to, and defend (!!), the world's standard. We do not need to be slaves to what passes as today's entertainment. We serve God Almighty before Whom His created beings cover their faces or fall on their faces crying, "Holy, holy, holy!" That is our standard. We compare what is acceptable to that, not to what is accepted by "good people," or mainstream Christianity, today. God help me.

I write because I am so easily influenced. I so easily take on the flavors and scents of whatever I am around, the opinions of Facebook, of spoken words swirling around me mixed with the culture of the age. I must recalibrate myself to the truth sometimes, drawing the line in the sand even as I struggle to get on the right side of that line.

If sin is sin, then let's treat it as such and not accept it as the world has.

"People are requesting prayer regarding their besetting sins and character weaknesses instead of coming in honesty and humility to God and saying, 'I am constantly tempted to commit this sin because I love this sin. I do not hate it. I need the fear of God. O God, give me a hatred for what I now love. I receive it by faith in Jesus' name.'" --Joy Dawson, Intimate Friendship with God

"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" --Romans 6:6

P.S. This is not my opinion on Beauty and the Beast. This is my reminder to not let my standards fall in general.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

192: what I meant and reminder to self about His goodness and my entertainment

By my previous post I was not saying we should or should not watch movies with objectionable content, or that we should or should not continue making the same movie choices we have been comfortable making in the past.

I was saying that the logic that justified former choices must carry us through now. That's the nature of logic. You can't justify one while condemning another.

And so I suggested--or attempted to suggest--that we let this opportunity cause us again to examine our logic, check our justification, hold up our choices to the light of God's holiness, the Light Who searches out the deep recesses of our hearts.

Hold up our choices to the Light...

(and here is where I squirm and want to NOT think about this)

...keep them there...

...let not only the Savior of our sins but also the One who is pure righteousness shine brightly on our lives...

...until He gives us peace to move on.

I don't need to automatically assume He's displeased with my choices. I also don't need to shrink away from the brightness of His glory in fear of what lesser things He might actually require me to give up. He is good. I've got to remember that. He's got my back. He knows what holes giving up this show or that movie would cause in my life (I sound melodramatic--ah well). Again, He is good. If I'm really following Him, then whatever I have to lose (if anything!) by letting His Light shine on my Netflix, YouTube, and movie tickets will be well made up in gaining more of Him.

So maybe we can hold up our choices to the Light once more, trusting in His goodness, surrendered to His direction.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

191: where on earth do we draw the line

With the news that the upcoming, and much anticipated, live-action Beauty and the Beast remake will be a "watershed moment" for Disney, the question niggles at me, "Where will we draw the line?"

Alisha Rouse for the "Daily Mail" writes:
In an interview with Attitude magazine, director Bill Condon said: ‘LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.
‘He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.’
Mr Condon said the character, played by Josh Gad, is part of a ‘watershed moment’ for Disney. He said: ‘The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.’
Now, I understand that sometimes the news is all hype--like when Facebook exploded with the "lesbian" scene in Finding Dory. And, granted, no one has seen Beauty and the Beast and declared it to have a homosexual element. But when the director of the film says that, through the character of LeFou, Disney is "sending out a message that this is normal and natural," I think we can say the intent is pretty clear.

Immediately I asked myself whether that would affect my plans to see the new remake. Would this slap in the face of Biblical values and Judeo-Christian conservatism produce any more than a small blip in my plans to patronize the theater later this month?

And what has led us as a Christian culture to consider letting an "exclusively gay moment" in a classic fairy tale not affect us?

One of the few TV shows I actually let the world of Facebook know I watch is Doctor Who. It is relatively clean, both in language and sensuality. But in the first several seasons--the best seasons, in my opinion--there's Captain Jack Harkness, blatantly gay both on and off screen.

One of the movies I don't openly tell people I like, but happen to like, is Leap Year. While there isn't any homosexuality, the movie does have two characters that live together--in fact, the only reason they're able to get an apartment in an exclusive community is by telling the board that they are going to marry (I mean, we were going to eventually, so why not now?).

Sherlock--which I just finished watching for the first time in the last month or so--is decidedly pro-gay and pro-fornication. It's not the main focus of the show--it's not why we become so enthralled with the characters--but it's there. Perhaps even more overtly than it will be in Beauty and the Beast.

So where do we draw the line?

Even Christy and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, extremely innocent TV shows that they are--and that I've loved--explore themes of believers falling in love with non-believers without any insinuation that that is extremely foolhardy.

I feel a little like the frog being boiled in water--immorality as Biblically defined has become such a normal part of entertainment that I have accepted it even while keeping in the back of my mind that "that scene/character/theme is wrong."

So what's the big deal if Beauty and the Beast will be a watershed moment for Disney? For us believers, it's just another movie we'll enjoy. Maybe we'll give a caviat when recommending it, because, well, some people might not want their kids to be exposed to that, or, it's not something you would expect it in a cartoon remake. But as adults, we will watch the movie because how can we condemn this film and yet swallow hook-line-and-sinker all these other shows we enjoy that are as bad or worse?

Be holy as I am holy, He says.

So where do we draw the line?




P.S. And how far have we come? When I was a child, I tore up my VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast--even though it was a favorite--because of Biblically-condemned bestiality and witchcraft.
(If you wish to read the full article by the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4269824/Disney-puts-gay-scene-Beauty-Beast.html#ixzz4a7NroFNr )

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

190: marriage: object or portal, building or frontier

What is marriage? No idea. So this is my rambling.

As a single, sometimes marriage becomes an object. It is something you try to get.

Or we think of it like a portal into another world. You have no idea what the other world is like, but it must be Narnian in its magical qualities.

But we forget--unintentionally, temporarily--the relationship part of marriage.

Edward entered Narnia with his grumpy jealousies and wreaked havoc. Narnia was magical, but they still had to contend with the White Witch. We haven't tried merging our lives with another selfish being--like us.

Marriage is not an object or a portal. It is a building. It looks sturdy and safe and appealing from the perspective of a visitor. But the architect and construction crew know that you don't just say, "I want a beautiful house," and bam! it's there. It takes a lot of planning and starting and backing up and re-figuring, dealing with pipes bursting, and the city finding something wrong with the electricity, and the tile costing more than you planned, and the roofer taking twice as long as promised. On the worst days, you wonder if it was worth the headache to take this on.

Is it worth the labor? Yes. Oh yes. Because then you have a beautiful home that you built. There is pride and satisfaction and shelter.

But it's not an object to snatch up. This building is not up for auction. It's just a piece of land--maybe not even cleared of brush and rubble accumulated from the past. It's a portal into another world, sure--but that world is an untamed frontier you will have to pioneer.
 
Still sound romantic?

Actually, yeah, it does. :D

Monday, February 13, 2017

189: why I celebrate Valentines (not profound, not comprehensive)

I celebrate Valentines Day because I like romance and oohs and ahhs and an excuse to go over-the-top with hearts and chick flicks and red and pink d├ęcor.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I don't want to feel left out as a single person. Yes, that's the selfish, preventing-a-pity-party, barging-into-a-day-marketed-for-couples reason. Ah well.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I relish special moments. Those moments that make you smile from the inside out. That tickle your heart and make you smile even when you recall it months later. Those moments you write down in your journal to remember for always. That the two share that no one else sees--the personal joke, the unspoken expression, the unexpected look or word. Meaningless...except to you.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I believe in marriage. Because I believe God Himself made marriage. Because God Almighty endorses the relationship between man and woman. So Hallmark can be all wet, but no matter if I'm single or married or in a dating relationship that's going south, I'm still going to believe my God that that institution is a GREAT one and that He designed us to fit well in it.

So although rotic it may be (rotic = "romantic" without the man), tomorrow you will find me wearing a heart-bespeckled shirt to school, helping the kids with fractions using conversation hearts, eating holiday treats, and then spending an evening with the girl friends just because I get to enjoy the present!
~*~

"Clem caught her eye across the table. It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch." --Mrs. Miniver (1942) by Jan Struther

~*~

"Catherine coloured, and said, 'I was not thinking of anything.'
'That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.'
'Well then, I will not.'
'Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.'
--conversation between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, chapter 3




Friday, February 10, 2017

188: today's present

Today I am thankful for my little full time job where I can be lying in bed, waiting til the very last minute to get up for work, and get a text saying school is cancelled due to weather conditions. I'm thankful I can feel on top of things by mass texting my students' parents the news and then posting it on the school FB page. I'm thankful I can then be so not on top of things and cuddle back under the covers irresponsibly. I'm thankful I have time to read Laura Story's latest book, When God Doesn't Fix It. I'm thankful for time to get together with a friend and enjoy this oddly spring-like day (was Punxatawny Phil wrong??) by walking down town and book shopping. I'm thankful for money to buy yet more books for my classroom library (if I ever quit, I'll need a storage shed just for my books). I'm thankful for spontaneous friends who will bring over their Chinese takeout and make themselves comfortable while I run to the store for icecream and wait around anxiously for a hard phone call to happen that never happens. I'm thankful for movies from 80 years ago that still set my heart aflutter. I'm thankful for phones with Internet and Kindle apps when the Internet on my computer flops like a slippery trout. I'm thankful tomorrow is Saturday--after a full day off today--and that I can set it aside as a Sabbath and have TWO days off in a row.

These are things I'm thankful for that I would not have experienced if this were not my present. This is my present and I accept these gifts. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

187: this year's Valentines post

I have a new theme for my blog. Embracing the Present.

But I don't want to be always zipadeedooda either.

Basically, I don't know what to write about anymore. I feel like I've already said any thoughts that I continue to regurgitate.

I recommend 2 books. Pain Redeemed: When Our Deepest Sorrows Meet God by Natasha Metzler, and Blindsided by God by Peter Chin. Neither have to do with singleness, but both apply.

I haven't experienced the hardships that other people go through. I haven't experienced infertility or infidelity or wayward children or financial crisis or cancer (which is no respecter of marriage status).

I've only experienced singleness and living at home.

That's it.

So God uses the putty at hand to teach me what I desperately need to learn.

Like, it is okay for life to derail. In fact, it is normal.

When I read my Bible and hear testimonies, I discover that God has no reverence for the "ideal." I'm not sure where we come up with the "ideal" life or the "perfect" life or the most virtuous way of doing things, even down to me thinking that bigger families, living in the country, and not dressing trendy is, by default, "better."

I have completely subjective ideas of what is the ideal life. My ideal would have been to marry NO LATER than 21 years old, have probably a dozen children, raise them so that I have a close relationship with my children and none of them rebel, and have a marriage that would show the older, less-romantic marrieds that this is how you have a good marriage.

What does God do? He gives me, oh, none of it.

I have yet to see where God observes our ideal.

God does not work with ideals. God does not work with your perfect dream.

Sarah was barren for about a century. Her ideal? NO WAY.

Ezekiel's wife dies. His plan? No!

Hosea marries a woman who leaves him for other men, and their relationship is publicized before the whole nation. His idea of a good life? Uh, no.

Moses is sent away by his mother while a toddler, forced into a adoption/foster child type situation where he (my conjecture) fits neither as an Egyptian or as a Hebrew.

Elijah feels all alone in the world.

Daniel is castrated as a eunuch while a teenager.

Esther is forced to marry an older man who sleeps with many women.

Jeremiah is cast into a pit just for doing what God says.

We dismiss these examples because that was God's plan for them. Because we see how God was going to use it. Because they're in the Bible.

No, no, no. These were real men and women who had their lives upended because having your life upended by fate is NORMAL, but God is not fazed IN THE LEAST when your life derails. He does not have to come up with a Plan B. He is right there. His ideal for me was never dependent on me getting married, having children, and homeschooling. His plan for me never involved the path of sanctification I wanted--I wanted, I've always wanted, to be sanctified through marriage, to grow up through the crucible of marriage, to mature through parenting, to fulfill my life's purpose alongside my husband.

Instead, God's plan of sanctification for me means I have to say, no, I have no idea what it's like to be a parent. I've never had to stay up nursing or taking care of a sick child. No, my heart has never broken over my flesh and blood. I have not had to deal with miscommunication with a spouse. I haven't had to learn to compromise with a husband. I haven't had to feel the pang of selfishness being scraped away through marriage. I haven't. And not because I don't want to. But because this, THIS, is God's plan for ME. And the whole world can think I have the easy life as I shake these iron bars and cry out that it wasn't my plan, but--

God is in Heaven, and He does what He pleases. He chooses the paths we trod. Why, why do we hold on to our dreams so tightly and forget that EVERYTHING could go wrong in our lives and, still, EVERYTHING would be ours through Christ? His ideal for us is not temporal and circumstantial but spiritual and eternal. We lose nothing through singleness that every other Christian before us hasn't experienced in their own God-ordained way--the loss of something dear so that we might gain the intimate knowledge of Christ, apart from circumstances.

inside recess on a rainy day

"[T]o be a witness to God is, above all, to know, believe, and understand Him. All that He asks us to do is but means to this end. He will go to any lengths to teach us, and his manipulation of the movements of men . . . is never accidental. Those movements may be incidental to the one thing toward which He goads us: the recognition of Christ." --Elisabeth Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman