Thursday, February 26, 2015

For the woman or man who says, "I regret seeing Fifty Shades of Gray. Now, what?"

image courtesy of

After the box office record-breaking weekend for Fifty Shades of Gray, the dust is beginning to settle. You have heard the hype, perhaps eyed the trailer, and by now, you've likely heard that this movie is not a sweet romantic story as depicted. It is a movie centering around violent sex, abuse, and pornography of proportions that even Hollywood struggled to assign it an "R" rating.

But let's say you convinced yourself that "it couldn't be that bad." Or a group of girlfriends were going together, and you were in need of "girl time" so you went along against your better judgment. Maybe your curiosity got the best of you, or you just plain wanted to see something steamy.

While loads of people went to the movie fully prepared (they read the book) and hungry for explicit content, many others came away feeling shocked, violated, confused, sad, horrified and well, dirty.  What, now?

**This is written to Christians, those who believe in Christ and have had their lives revolutionized by Him. If you haven't met Him yet, or aren't sure, read Would you like to know God personally? here.

A few truths for the day after:

1. It's right to be disturbed after seeing this movie.

Feeling dirty or guilty after watching this movie is appropriate. To look upon and ingest vile content is a form of mental and spiritual defilement. 

"Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1

Paul writes extensively about this in Ephesians chapter 5: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret." Ephesians 5:3-12

2. Although you may feel dirty, Jesus has made you clean.

Jesus bore the sins of the world, including abuse, sexual perversion, mistreatment of women, as well as anything and everything you and I have done wrong.  These sins were standing between mankind and the Creator who loves us. Jesus willingly suffered a horrific death on the cross to provide atonement for you and me.  We can now be restored to a real, vibrant relationship with God because of Jesus' death and resurrection.

"Come, let's talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!" Isaiah 1:18

If you have already come to Christ for your salvation, then He forgave all of your sins...including this one of partaking in the darkness that is Fifty Shades of Gray. He asks that you confess it to Him, admitting that to see it was wrong. Not, "I didn't mean to see it, I was out-voted by girlfriends and it was majority rule, it was just a movie..."  

To confess sin means agreeing with God about what He says about right and wrong. He instructs us to "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed." Colossians 3:5

Because Christ's blood covers our sin, we now agree with God concerning our sin and thank Him for the forgiveness that is already ours!

3. Renounce spiritual darkness.

In Scripture, we learn that there is more than meets the eye in our earthly experience.  The battle isn't against Hollywood, the author of a depraved book, or a society that has lost its moral conscience. We are battling evil forces in the invisible realm. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

The Evil One, Satan, has a plan to target each of us, and he does this through our minds. If you watched this movie, there are specific lies of the Enemy that need to be rejected and renounced.  

Lies to Reject, such as:

X "Perverse or abusive sex is an acceptable means of pleasure."

X "Violence against women --or anyone--is permissible if it is consensual." 

X "Anything goes, because I make the rules for my own life." 

X and many more...

The act of identifying and rejecting lies is an important step in the restoring of your mind. Ask the Lord to show you other false messages you encountered from Fifty Shades.  As you work through them with God's help, the next step is to actively replace lies with truth from Scripture. The following are truths, among many others, from God's Word that will frame your life with a healthy, holy perspective.

Truths to Confess, including:

+"Sex is designed by God to be uplifting, not degrading; bringing blessing to the body and soul, not destruction or harm."

Ephesians 5:28-29 says, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church."

+"Sex is a gift from God to husbands and wives, to be enjoyed within the safe boundary of marriage."

"Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!  Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. I Corinthians 6:13-18

+"I do not rule my own life.  I belong to God, and I am His."

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:19-20

***Spend time in prayer rejecting specific lies and making your confession of the corresponding truths. You may want to pray through the list of lies, truths, and Scriptures I've written out here. I encourage you to speak them out loud (following the model of Romans 10:10).

4. Take a spiritual bath.

While Jesus washes our hearts clean, the reality is that once you see some images, you can't "unsee" them. Continue to seek God for cleansing of your mind.

He renews our mind when we spend time reading His Word. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2. See also Ephesians 5:25-27.
Fill your mind with light.  "Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." Philippians 4:8

5. Become attentive to the Voice of His Spirit within.

If you are a believer in Christ, His Spirit lives inside of you.  He is a very practical help in every life situation.

Did you hear the Voice inside telling you it was not a good idea to see the movie beforehand? If we ignore, try to downplay or shush the Voice, we sometimes receive another opportunity.  While watching the movie with its' graphic sex and violence, was the Holy Spirit inside of you quiet? Or was He stirring your soul, making you uncomfortable in your conscience and aware that this was not right?  A second chance, a "way of escape" was given as a choice to stay and watch or walk out of the movie. Often, the second and third opportunities to make the right decision are harder than the first.  But it will always be worth it.

(One other note: While only Christians have the Holy Spirit, many nonbelievers had a bothered conscience regarding this movie, too. God gives everyone a conscience at birth, the sense of right and wrong.  However, if over time someone continually goes against their conscience, it becomes much quieter.  See Romans chapter 1. "Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what not ought to be done." Romans 1:28)
6. Lastly, if this movie didn't bother you, I prayerfully urge you to take a soul inventory.

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." I John 1:5-10

I close these thoughts with Ephesians 2:1-6 which beautifully reminds us of the 'before' and 'after' of meeting Christ.

"It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah."

If you are still awaiting the experience of His incredible love, it would be my pleasure to introduce you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Remember when it used to be all about you?  You as a single woman, or you two as a married couple?  When you would have friends over for a meal and no little people would tug on your company's jeans and ask to show her doll collection or Sesame Street lunchbox?  Or read Green Eggs and Ham together?  Or watch the little one sing a new song?  Remember how you would linger over the meal discussing careers, relationships, football, God?  You didn't excuse yourself from the table to wipe mouths, remove bibs, and disappear to put babies down for the night?

I remember those days, and yet, I am different now.  I am a Mother.  I have two amazing daughters, 2.5 and 14 months.  And my girls are a part of our home, our family.  They are a part of me.  

Have you ever tried to minimize your children in front of others, especially friends without children who might not "understand"?  Have you tried to shoo them away like a fly, quiet down their requests so they might not bother your guests?  Been embarrassed of a toddler's excitement and eagerness to engage your friends?

I have.  I am sad to admit it.  And I failed my own children.

After the fact, Jesus' approach to little children came rushing to mind. 

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.  He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16

The text calls them "little children", which perfectly identifies my children, ages 2 and below.  If the kids in this story were 5, 6 years old and above, wouldn't they simply be called, "children"?  They also would not require people to "bring them" to Jesus.  I imagine mothers and fathers, grandparents and neighbors bringing squirmy babies and active toddlers up to see Jesus.  Some were sitting on his lap, giggling and others were likely gathered around him, tugging on his robe, stroking his hair or beard, whispering secrets in his ear.  Another was showing him a treasured rock or flower petal, or twirling around for Jesus to see and praise.

I see Jesus looking straight into the little ones' eyes while listening to stammering sentences and silly songs.  It says he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. 

He wrapped his arms around the small people and told the big people that he was busy right now.

In that moment, He made it clear that talking with the little children was more important than talking with the adults.

Ahem.  What a shift.

If I could have his sense of value and priority, I would realize that my children are not nuisances. They are not sent here to keep their father and me from having long, serious dinner parties. They are not to be hidden or shuffled away or "hindered", as it says.  

They are God's heart, at the center of his kingdom.  And when I, or others, look deeply into their eyes and care about an Elmo doll or a game of peek-a-boo, we are being Christ to them.  Their greatest need is to be loved.  They want to feel secure and wanted.  This is why Jesus took them in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.  He knew how to communicate his love and their worth, security, and value -- through a hug, kind words, and undivided attention.

I feel I do offer much of this to my children throughout the day.  But when others are with my children, I think I haven't understood my role as my child's advocate, first and primary teacher, and helper.  If an adult seems uninterested in a simple request of my little child, I instinctively want to whisk her away from the adult, so she will not be a bother.  But if to Jesus she is not a bother!, how can I advocate for her little heart, teach her in that moment and perhaps also teach the adult about the worth of a little soul?  How can I bridge the gap?  

{Because I know that while my child may seem to want to the moon, all she really wants is about 30 seconds of genuine eye contact from one of Mommy's or Daddy's friends, and she will be over the moon.}  

I will look her in the eye.  I will not make extra threats of discipline to corral her behavior in the presence of guests.  I will not treat others as more important than she.  I will remember that "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

And maybe as I remember my children's place in God's kingdom and around our dinner table, our friends may see and understand, and with arms outstretched, bless our children, too. 

"Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." 
Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)

"Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him...

your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord."

Psalm 128:1, 3-4

Friday, January 4, 2013

Will the dust praise you?

After a long break from writing, I want and need to write again...With two delightful daughters, 2.5 and just-turned-one, much has changed, yet the desire to process my thoughts with words has not.  If you are blessed by my journey, then please come along.

I awoke on New Year's Day to math in my head. The computations startled me.  

In 16 short years, I WILL BE FIFTY! 50 years old!


I have lived for so long believing my life was just beginning, that I have lots of time to apply God-given gifts, to accomplish Kingdom dreams. To make a mark on the world in His name.

I thought I had so much time.

Then I was jolted with the face-slap reality that NO, I DO NOT.

The time is flying by, the seasons of life, the joys and the milestones.  However, in the past year, I have come to understand that life is hard.  Very hard. There were 5 major medical situations and surgeries among our close family this year. I was among the family members with life-altering diagnoses.  

Melanoma was discovered and removed on my back, and several lymph nodes were removed under my arm to be tested.  The doctors wanted to rule out the possibility that cancer had progressed beyond the skin and invaded my body.  If it had, I would be fighting the most lethal and fast-growing cancer of all.

I remember the afternoon I left the doctor's office at the hospital following a post-op appointment in which I received good news. My lymph nodes were clear!  My margins were clean. My body was cancer-free!

I couldn't wait to call Dean to tell him the thrilling news--I wasn't fighting for my life.  I was going to live, hopefully, a long life as his wife and the mother of our children.

I stepped onto the elevator going down.  It was crammed with people.  A woman in a wheelchair was missing her legs.  A 60-something husband and his wife, carrying a thick folder of medical notes and a worried face. A homeless-seeming and smelling man. Here I was stuffed in between them, bursting with joy inside, yet surrounded with heartache and bad news all around. 

And I realized, I may have received good news today, but the truth is, we are all going to the same place.  

The elevator we are all on is going down.  

All of us have a ticking clock, some with more time on it than others, but we are all going down into the earth.
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19
I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.

To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?

    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.
You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

(portions of Psalm 30)

"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins."  
James 4:13-16

I can't think of a better New Year's gift than the revelation of time. The reminder that our days are numbered, possibly shorter than we imagine.  

Celebrate a new year with me in the humble knowledge that each day is a gift, that tomorrow is not a promise!, that next year or decade may not come, but in Christ, we can take heart and hope in Him. They are oh, so short.  As you make resolutions and goals and dream about your future, let's remember the all important preface, "If it is the Lord's will, I will live and do this or that."

What will you do this year by His Spirit? If he gives me more breath, I will use it to praise His name. "My heart will sing your praises and not be silent." 

Teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom!
Psalm 90:12

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Moving Beyond Your To-Do List

Remember how I likened motherhood to being dropped into the deep sea and told to swim to shore?  {Motherhood is also like winning the lottery, vacationing in Italy, having cupcakes for breakfast kind-of-wonderful.  But I am sharing the hard parts now.}  Let me explain a little secret I discovered in the midst of the hard adjustments.

Check?  Check.
In the other classrooms or chapters of my life, organization and preparedness ruled.  Taking good notes and finishing the reading counted.  Checklists and to-do lists were a girl's best friend throughout school, work, and even marriage and home life.

Finish reading Macbeth. Check.
Lead girls' Bible Study.  Check.
Prepare proposal for a new engineering project.  Check.
Buy Birthday gift for hubby.  Check.
Menu plan and grocery shop for the week.  Check.

But some things in life aren't meant to be easily checked off.  Like motherhood. Some are meant to dirty up our knees.  

Goodbye, Checklist
One day after our daughter was several months old, I remember feeling the panicky feeling of I can't get anything done!  I even submitted my to-do list to my husband to show him how long it was.  It had 50 items on it.  I felt so overwhelmed.  I had been trying and trying to make traction on my list, but it seemed that Baby was stealing all of the hours in the day.  (which she was in many ways, rightfully :)

The next morning, I woke up and basically threw in the towel.  I remember deciding to abandon my list.  To forget about all the pressure to get things done, and to enjoy the day.  To enjoy my little girl!  To enjoy myself, my God, and my life.  

I immediately felt free.  I went from banging my head against the wall in frustration to laughing and dancing inside.  

But What About...?
Some may ask, that sounds nice, and all, but when did you get your work done? That was the miracle.  On that day, the day I surrendered my list and my stress to my Maker, I noticed that as I was still and peaceful, I heard a small Voice begin to guide me.  

Wouldn't now be a great time to mop the floor?  She's taking a nap, I heard.  

So I did.  I've never taken such joy in clean floors!  

Then, Do you want to organize her outgrown clothes in bins for the attic?  

Yes, what a good idea.  

Somehow these suggestions didn't stress me out when they came from The Voice inside, as they did when I saw them on my list.  And would you believe I accomplished more in that one day by just listening and following His Voice than I did in the months before?  

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."  (Isaiah 30:21)

If you know Christ as your Savior, His Spirit lives inside you.  He will guide you, speak to you, and show you the way you should go.  Even down to the small things.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  (John 10:27)

Law vs. Grace
Sometimes we believers put too much pressure on ourselves in everyday life.  We still live in the mindset that we have to live up to the Law, that we have to do everything right.  In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the law with many commands to obey, not because they could humanly keep them all (none of us can keep even the 10 Commandments perfectly), but so that we would see that we fall short.  And be ready to reach out for a Savior, Jesus, when He came.

We often think that we must do all the right things, whether that is keep a perfect house or give the perfect presentation, be the ideal wife and mom and never mess up.  We may put pressure on ourselves to read the Word everyday, never let anyone down, or speak harshly. Well, that is why Jesus came.  None of us can live up to our own expectations, let alone God's.  We need Him!  We need His power and grace, and this comes through His salvation and the gift of His Holy Spirit.  

When we have His Spirit inside of us, we can lay down our long checklists and begin to rely on Him to lead us, to guide us by His Voice.  We will accomplish many things, but they will be the things He had in mind.  And the beautiful part is we will be free to enjoy the day!

Ahhh...surrender.  This Mom recommends it.
Related posts: What Is This Moment For?

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