Something at my very core is changing. The old way must go. I’m at a loss of words when it comes to explaining what is taking place, but I have found a great passage of scripture that does the explaining for me. Take some time today to read God’s words instead of mine. Let Him speak to you. The following passage of scripture is taken from a Biblical paraphrase known as The Message. Please feel free to look up these same verses in which ever version of the Bible you read.
Ephesians 4:17 – 5:10
“And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”
- It’s time for change to take place - Tim
There seems to be a new trend taking place that concerns me. The ‘adult’ entertainment industry appears to be pushing pornography onto women, and it is working. Not too long ago, the largest advocates for tearing down the porn industry were women. A large portion of the female population argued that pornography was demeaning. They rightly contended that it made ladies appear as nothing but a tool to fulfill men’s selfish desires. Ladies were a large voice in calling for the repeal of what a majority of women viewed as a detestable act. In my opinion, the strength of the female voice began to weaken the porn industry and they retaliated by making male porn more attractive to women. Much like when the frog is slowly warmed in water to be cooked, women are slowly being lured into embracing pornography.
This trend is currently creating what seems like a double standard in our society. I’m sure the plan is to make it where all pornography is accepted.
Why am I stating this is a double standard? The main reason is because many women have no problem going to see a movie about a male stripper, Magic Mike, but they would still be offended if their husbands/boyfriends attended a movie about female strippers. This is not the case for all women and I don’t mean to generalize the statement. I am fully aware that some women did not watch Magic Mike and some who did have no problem allowing their boyfriends/husbands to watch pornography but I think that many who did watch the movie do oppose having their significant others lusting after another woman.
Say what you want to about the story, the main reason the movie has made $107,600,000 to date is because women wanted to see Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and other men take off their clothes. That was the main focus of the commercials and the draw for the movie. This is not a record breaking movie but when one figures in the fact that the movie’s main demographic was women, it’s a large number.
I will get off my soapbox for a moment… Pornography is something I have personally dealt with in my life. If anyone ever tells you that pornography is not destructive, they are either lying, in denial or just perverted. Like any other addiction, it can control your life. It is destructive because it messes with your psyche. The fact that some people fight so hard in defense of pornography should be a very clear sign that it is harmful. It’s much like when an alcoholic says, “I’ve got everything under control. I know my limits.” Because pornography is an addictive behavior, it often leads down a road of progressive steps. A person may begin by looking at an image on a website. The image may be considered soft porn. That suffices for a time but is soon not enough to fulfill the person’s desire so he/she turns to more hard core images. The images lead to watching movies, interacting with people online and often to the person perusing sexual escapades. Each thing leads to another and the destructive nature of the behavior increases. One of the most famous cases of pornography going bad was in the case of Ted Bundy. Bundy was a famous serial killer in the 1970’s. In an interview with James Dobson, Bundy stated that his addiction to pornography lead him down the path to becoming a serial killer. I am not saying that viewing pornography will make you a murderer, but it will lead you down a path of destruction. There will be a price to pay. It may cost you your job, marriage, financial health or even your physical health. It’s not the first image you view that will cost you but that image could lead you down a path to an addiction that will cause you to make decisions that cost dearly. If you don’t believe me ask any wife who divorced her husband due to his having an affair. It usually starts with porn and leads to something more.
Every Christian should be outraged that the entertainment industry has produced a movie fully intended to desensitize women to pornography but I am here to tell you that many Christian women went to see the movie. I don’t have any statistics to corroborate my claims because there is apparently not a Christian female meter on movie viewing, but just Google ‘christian women watching magic mike’ and read some of the other blogs on the subject. It seems that much of Christian society is silent when it comes to women watching what essentially is a pornographic movie while they are outspoken when men do the same thing. It almost seems as though we Christians shun pornography when it is directed toward men but are silent when its target audience is women. It’s a double standard. Pornography is either a sin or it isn’t. If it is wrong for men to view sexually explicit imagery, it’s wrong for women.
As I stated, it’s my opinion that this is a move to generate more acceptance toward pornography. It creates a slippery slope. Think about this scenario. A wife asks her husband, “What did you rent for guy’s night?” He replies, “Showgirls.” She says, “I can’t believe that; you know I don’t like for you to watch that trash!” He retorts, “You watched Magic Mike last month, so what’s the difference?” The lines get thinner as the loudest voice against pornography grows silent. The giant $12billion industry known as the Adult Entertainment industry continues to grow while we embarrassingly fail to fight it.
Want to read a Christian review of Magic Mike? Check out this link: mike.aspxhttp://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/magic-mike.aspx
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Have you ever wondered if God chooses to be silent? Are there times when you simply cannot hear Him speaking to you? I am at a place in my life where I am straining, pleading, needing to hear God speak to me. My family recently moved to a new town about two months ago, I confess it feels like an eternity. It’s been a slow summer, a spiritually dry summer. We’ve had a difficult time finding a new church, I haven’t made any close friends and I am terribly homesick. I’ve been isolated in a small town and the local Kwik Shop is about my only option for a fun night out.
Now, if you are an introverted, laid back personality this may sound like bliss, isolated at home, not a lot of people to hang out with, and not a lot to do. For an extroverted, Type A personality, it’s like sitting in the dentist chair getting a root canal that takes hours to finish. I confess that my personality needs a lot going on, projects to manage, people to interact with, places to go, and something to do other than laundry, (my boon companion). It’s difficult for me to be still. Now let me say that again like a 5 year old asked to sit quietly, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE STILL! I haven’t been able to find a job, I have no friends, and if I have to clean another toilet I may lose my mind.
In my lonely state of self-absorption, I am reminded of the Israelites. If they weren’t on the mountain top, they were in the valley complaining. If God wasn’t speaking to them directly or doing awesome miracles, they worshipped another. If Moses wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear, they threatened to leave. The Israelites were fickle, wondering, emotion driven people who let their circumstances determine their value. It wasn’t enough to be a child of God, they needed to be a child of God with lots of stuff. It’s great to be a child of God when things are going well, with a place to live, food to eat, and prosperity in your future. It’s difficult to just be a child of God and not know where you will rest your head, how you will put food on the table, and have no employment prospects. We might not be that destitute as my husband has a good job. But the move has been difficult, in fact, the last few months have been down right trying.
Simply put, I get the Israelites. I love being on the mountain top, like attending a great worship service where the worship is palpable, the message is inspiring, and lives are changed. I love being around people who are friendly, kind, and interested in my life. I love having a job that makes me feel like I’m valuable and where I get all kinds of accolades. I love having lots of friends and lots of activity in my life.
My American driven ego and life style isn’t used to not having these emotionally driven activities. Therein lies the problem, I’m not used to being still and I’m not good at trusting God in the valley.
I believe the Word of God is true and I believe God fulfills His promises. Yet my heart is aching and my emotions are on a roller coaster. So what’s a girl to do? Run and worship another idol like the Israelites because my emotions are not falling in line with what I believe to be true? Or do I claim the Word of God and keep my emotions from influencing what I believe and how I behave?
I’ve let my emotions deter my course of action before, swerving from the truth just a little bit so as to appease my aching heart. It ended badly for me and has had a profound impact on my life. I will write about that in future blogs. So today, June 27th, I chose what I know to be true regardless of emotion.
God will not forsaken or abandon me.
God has a future and a hope for me.
God is still the same no matter what my circumstances.
God is doing something new in my life.
If you are in a difficult place where trusting Him doesn’t “feel” like the right thing to do and you want to run in the opposite direction from Him rather than to Him, then let’s claim this promise together.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To be continued……..
Facebook has influenced our vernacular more than any of us realize. Even the words ‘friend’ and ‘fan’ have taken on different positions in our understanding than they had a few years ago. At one time a friend was a person you physically knew, someone with whom you talked and shared your deepest secrets. Today a ‘friend’ may be someone you met online and really know nothing about. You may share a common interest our you just want to look popular so your ‘friended’ another person. Historically a fan has been someone who admires another person. They know much about the person in whom they admire but they don’t really know that person. Once again Facebook has somewhat redefined that word. If someone has too many friends, they create a page instead of a profile. People become ‘fans’ of that page. It’s really just a way of saying you have so many ‘friends’ that you can now only have ‘fans.’ It’s all confusing really. Now I am asking you the question: “Are you a friend or a fan of Jesus Christ?” With today’s definitions my question can seem quite fuzzy, but I am asking the question using the traditional definitions.
As crazy as it sounds, I feel the need provide a proper definition of these two terms.
(These are my definitions, not Webster’s)
Friend: A person with whom you share your life. This is a person with whom you feel comfortable sharing feelings, affection, secrets, joy, laughter and even pain. A friend is someone who will not only allow you to share your life, but they will share theirs with you as well.
Fan: Someone who enthusiastically admires another person. A fan will learn about the object of their admiration and sometimes follow that person. A fan does not typically know the person.
Anyone who knows me (is my friend) is fully aware that I am an advocate of studying about God. They know that I believe we need to understand why we believe what we believe and how science and history define who God is. I am fully aware that science and history point toward God and not away from Him despite what others might claim. That is a strong part of my spiritual DNA. Scriptural reference for doing so: 2 Timothy 2:15 AMP - Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
I truly believe we need to study about God, but I think we too often spend our time knowing about Him at the expense of truly knowing Him. Gaining a large amount of head knowledge about God without truly taking time to know Him personally is the same as being His fan instead of His friend. I think the world is full of fans of Jesus Christ, but I often wonder how many friends He has. I also often wonder if I fit more into the fan category.
Here is the thing: If you are a fan, you get to learn about the person and dream about their lives without actually being expected to do the work required in a friendship. For all of us who has ever had a friend or been a friend to someone else, we realize it takes work. Sometimes that friend may need you to console them or even help them on a project. They may want to talk to you about things that make you feel uncomfortable or tell you stuff that is just out of your league. You’re friend may also lovingly challenge you to stop a destructive habit in your life. Friendship takes work and commitment while being a fan can be exciting. I’m not saying that fans are not committed; some fans will follow celebrities around the world and spend much time studying that celebrity. They do this, however, for personal motivation not to benefit the celebrity. It’s self focused because following the celebrity gives the fan a sense of joy and sometimes a rush of adrenaline.
I think we often like the rush we get from following Jesus. I think it’s what the disciples experienced throughout much of their time with Him. When Jesus was crucified, they ran. It was no longer fun to follow a man who was being executed for the things he said and did. I think that for the most part the disciples were not Jesus friends until after He rose from the dead. That was when they each made a commitment to follow Him unashamedly.
Being a fan of Jesus Christ is much more fun than being a friend. When we have a personal relationship with God (i.e. friendship) much is required on our parts. It takes work and commitment. God asks us to do and say things that make us feel uncomfortable. He shares things with us that we would rather not hear and challenges us to change and become better human beings. It’s hard work! I think many of us are more comfortable knowing about Jesus so we just follow Him from a distance, hoping He doesn’t ask anything difficult of us.
I consider myself a friend of Jesus but sometimes act more like a fan. I’m tired of being His fan because that is not what He wants and it is not the loving way to respond to the God who loved me so much that He gave of Himself to have a friendship with me. I am committing to do the work to become a better friend of Jesus Christ. What about you? Are you his friend or just his ‘biggest fan?’
James 2:23 (NIV) - And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
John 15:9-17 (NIV) [Words of Christ] “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
May 30, 1998
This is a very exciting week. Julie had a birthday on Monday and we celebrate our 14 year anniversary today!! I also received my hardcover copy of The Night Terror last night and we are preparing for our first ever family vacation to Disney World and Florida. Can you say over-stimulated?
I find it extremely difficult to stay focused at work because I have so many exciting things taking place. I just need to get through today and tomorrow and I will have some well earned time off.
I am dedicating today’s blog to my wife of 14 years, Julie Stritzel McSwain. I can’t believe that it has been 14 years already. I am very blessed to be married to such a beautiful, intelligent and strong woman. Julie has stood by my side through thick and thin and has shared times of joy and pain. I only had two living grandparents when we married and she was there to comfort me when I lost each of them. She has also consoled me when I received a bad report from the doctor and helped me pray for healing (which happened). She held me when I was laid off from two jobs and stayed by my side when we had to sell a car we loved and our first home. She gave birth to our wonderful children and has been an exceptional mother. She has also supported me in my desire to follow my dreams of becoming a writer. Julie has been a blessing to my life. I am not sure what life would have been like without her, but I imagine I would have been a very lonely person. I love her deeply and am so thankful that we found eachother.
Thank you, Julie, for being my wife and sharing your love with me.
I hate washing the dishes, I really do. I also hate folding and sorting laundry. These are not tasks I enjoy and they don’t give me great pleasure. I hate doing the dishes and laundry but I love my wife. Because I love my wife I help out around the house. I wash dishes, wash, dry, fold and sort laundry, vacuum, sweep, mop, wipe down toilets, sinks, tubs, and the kitchen table (with different rags), and I dust. I also organize, pack and store items. I am no super husband but I do contribute to the housework.
I have not always been such a prime example of husbandry but when Julie began working fulltime I realized I had expected much from her in the past. I also recognized that there was no way she could maintain a career and our home, so I began helping significantly more than I ever have. I’m not as good at doing chores as she is but I can do them. I am no longer one of those inept husbands who claims he can’t figure out how to turn on the dishwasher but has no problem operating his computer or ATV.
I’m not saying all this to brag on myself but to make a point, I love my wife. Love is not about feeling gushy and getting chills – that’s the flu. Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own. Love is making sacrifices because you desire to bring joy to the object of your affection. Many marriages don’t last because people do not understand what it means to love one another. A couple makes the commitment in their wedding vows but never truly comprehends what that commitment means. I think on their wedding days most people can’t imagine life past their honeymoon. Love on a honeymoon and love in marriage are two totally separate entities.
Love involves sacrifice and those sacrifices must go both ways or you have a master/servant relationship instead of a marriage. If a wife does everything for her husband but he never treats her with respect, she loves him and so does he.
Also, two people will not always see things the same. This is when it is important to find a way to respect one another. An example is for us has been guns. I really like guns and I am a pro-gun aficionado. Julie, on the other hand has not been too keen on the subject. When we were first married she really did not want a gun in the house. I did. Out of my love and respect for her, however, I did not bring a gun into our house and I did not beleaguer her about it day in and day out. Over the years, however, she has recognized my inclination toward firearms and has allowed me to teach her to shoot and has most recently agreed to have guns in our home for the purpose of protection. I would not say that Julie has become a pro-gun NRA card touting momma bear, but she has recognized that guns are important to me and acted in love by accepting that part of who I am. I have assured her that I will keep our firearms where the children cannot access them and have already been teaching both children about gun safety. Caleb and Rachel both know that guns are not toys and are to never be treated as such. Caleb is a cub scout and had already undergone some formal gun safety training.
This is one of many examples where Julie and I have worked through areas of differing opinions. We haven’t always handled every situation correctly but when we do it is because we love one another. We both make sacrifices so the other can be happy. The crazy thing is that it brings us joy when we make each other happy. Even though we set out to enrich each other’s lives, we end up enriching our own as well.
If you want your marriage or relationship to succeed, learn to love. It won’t last or at the very least will not be any fun if you don’t learn that one important truth.