Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Facing Sin

I'm reading a book called Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, that discusses how Christians have become comfortable in our on sins so much that we don't even realize much of the time that we are sinning. This particular fact is something that I have often struggled with-- knowing what IS a sin, and what isn't and recognizing the sins so I can change.

I am very comfortable with Grace. I am also very comfortable with faith, and God's sovereignty. However, I do get a little too comfortable, and therefore have fallen into the category of comfortable with sin. YIKES!

One of the chapters contrasts how lightly we view sin today versus the Puritan era treated it. He quotes one of the authors from this day, Ralph Venning who said:

"Sin is vile, ugly, odious, malignant, pestilent, pernicious, hideous, spiteful, poisonous, virulent, villainous, abominable, and deadly."

As I read these words and pondered how evil the author was trying to describe sin, I felt his description came up a bit short. The description was probably more serious back then, but now almost seems comical- like a Dr. Suess book, so I came up with my own description of sin, and as I thought of it, what came to my mind was much more like a horror movie:

Sin is Disgusting, Noxious, Disturbing, Apathetic, Uncaring, Difficult, Shameful, A Cancerous Lesion, Deliberate, Robbing, Fearful, Dreaded, Unsettling, Upsetting, Sticky, Panicky, Time Consuming, Loathing, Empty, and Lonely.

What about you, if you had to describe sin, what would your list say? Take a few minutes and try this exercise too with me. Make a list of what you think sin is.

As I pondered this list with revolt, like you may be doing now, I continued on to the next line of the book...

"Those words (that you and I just came up with) describe not just the scandalous sins of society, (murder, rape, bigotry, malice, hate, fornication) but also the respectable sins we tolerate in our own lives. Tolerated sins like impatience, pride, gossip, resentment, frustration, and self-pity."

This concept hit me square between the eyes, as does this book. Of course I know that these things were not what God likes, but could I really accept that my chronic impatience with others, could be construed as: Disgusting and Disturbing?

The book goes on to make the definite distinction that there are levels of sinning, but that each subtle sin only leads to more sin. And all sin is viewed by God the same way. The way you and I have just described.

If you'd like to join me in reading this book during our upcoming Bible Study, and you're in the Dallas area, leave me a comment-- I'd love to give you the details on it!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cool Stuff About Trees

This Christmas, our pastor spoke on the meaning of several of our Christmas symbols and what they mean, including the Christmas Tree. I thought it was really neat, because as you know...I love trees. Check it out in the podcasts under: THE TREE

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Good is as it Gets

Christians: Happy Go Lucky, Brainwashed
I often wonder if some people think of Christians as some sort of Happy Club that is nothing more than brainwashing which makes you forget you have problems once you believe in Jesus. The image that comes to mind is that of a Stepford wife, happily slaving away working at the church bake sale and spouting out scripture verses that try to explain away every difficult situation without ever admitting that life itself, is sometimes not always great. But this depiction could not be further from the truth.

The Seriousness of Our Plight
The truth is Christians also face difficult lives. We’re unhappy about the same things that non-Christians are too. I hate paying taxes, and I grumble about people who take a parking spot in front of me. I sometimes get depressed over personal issues and I occasionally get irritated with my boss (okay, a lot). And I too am angered and hurt when I lose someone to death, especially someone who didn’t deserve to die.

But death is exactly what we all deserve. The Bible says that the wages of sin are death (Rom 6:23). Repayment for the sin that entered the world when Adam and Eve ate from the tree that God said not to, is death.

Why Do We Deserve Death?
It’s hard to understand why God would say that we deserve death. After all, we didn’t sin in the Garden of Eden that was Adam and Eve, not us. But it’s because of Adam’s sin, that we are now born into sin’s curse. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned, Romans 5:12. It’s because of this curse that life is difficult to live through in this world. Genesis recounts that God said to Adam, …cursed is the ground because of you, through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. (Gen. 3:17) There it is in black and white, and we can’t expect life to be any different. Life is tough!

People Do Good, Even the Non-Christian Ones.
Despite the fact that life is difficult, it’s still encouraging to see people want to do good. Something in us is moved when we see people reach out and do good for each other. When I see celebrities or well known people giving their time to work with impoverished nations to bring clean drinking water, or teach a village education they’ve never had-that’s good! But good works are nothing more than just good works. Do they give advice, provide protection? Does doing good bring financial security? Can good works help us escape death and enter eternal life in heaven? Not hardly. How often do we hear of good people in trouble? Even celebrities experience marital problems, depression, drug use, or financial ruin. These things can happen to anyone, no matter how much good they’ve done.

Why Not Just Do As Santa Claus Says?
So why not just be good for goodness sake? Because actually, we ourselves are not good, so how can we do good? And what we think of as good is not that great. Our standards are incredibly low, compared to God’s. Next, it’s hard to be good! It takes effort to serve others without tiring, so if we are to be good, we’re going to need something besides sheer will-power and lots of money. And more often than not, without the power of Christ, our good becomes self-serving and counter-productive to actually doing good for others.

In the book of Matthew, we see a story about a rich man who asks Jesus about being good. In the middle of his teaching ministry, a rich man approaches Jesus and eagerly says, Teacher, what good things should I do to get eternal life? (Mt 19:16)

This sounds like a logical question even to us today; God, what should I do to be good? I want to be good. Good is popular. Good is getting a lot of credit lately. Oprah does good. And people like it when you’re good. It warms hearts and brings people together. And for the most part, isn’t that what religion is about, how to be good? Isn’t good--well, good?

The problem with the idea that being good --is good enough is this:

We’re not good.

Not even close.

We’re Not Good?
We’re not good because we’re terribly flawed and let’s face it, you cannot make good stuff from flawed stuff. As mentioned above, we are all born into sin because of Adam’s downfall. Because I am born into sin, my natural state is to do wrong. A great description of this comes from an author I read that said:

We are sinners because of our nature; it’s not just that we commit sins. I have a pet, and he barks because he is a dog. It’s in his nature to do so. (Speaking In Doctrines, Posted by C-LOS - October 29th, 2010)

I love where the author says; it’s not just that we commit sins that makes us a sinner. This is a key distinction here, because so many people are fooled into thinking that doing good=being a good person. We must accept that we are flawed and imperfect people. I’ve never met a person who can claim perfection in anything, and we seem to be content with that as a society. As Christians, we should be quick to agree and point out that even knowing Jesus Christ doesn’t change this. We will always be flawed and desire to do sinful things in this world, it’s in our nature to do so.

God’s Standard is Too High to Achieve.
The second problem with the idea that being a good person, is good enough, is that God’s standard of good, is impossibly high. God is perfect and without sin. We are not perfect and sinful. God’s standard is perfection. We are imperfect and incapable of reaching that standard. Isaiah knew this when he lamented in his book, We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
So because good is such a lofty goal in the eyes of God, we could never hope to even reach the first few steps towards it.

Psalm 53:2,3 says, God looks down from heaven to see if there are any who understand...EVERYONE has turned away..there is no one who does good, not EVEN ONE.

Romans 3:12, all have turned away ...there is no one who does good, not EVEN ONE.

This is reflected in the response that Jesus gives to the rich man from the Matthew passage when he says, Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.

Jesus then goes on to get at the heart of the rich man’s issue. He lists the requirements of living a good life in the eyes of the Lord, living by the commandments. To which the rich man responds, I’ve done these since I was a kid, what else should I do? At this, Jesus cuts straight to the heart of his failures and announces that if he wants to be perfect, he should sell all his valued possessions and follow him. To which the man walks away sad, and incapable of doing. So often we think that we are willing to do good, but our flesh is incapable of really living up to God’s complete standards.

God is perfect.
We are not.

But, I See Good People.
How can the Bible say that no one is good, if I see people who are non-believers doing good all the time?
Apart from God, we might feel inclined to do good works. But again these works do not offer us eternal life, and apart from God, we will be incapable of sustaining goodness. The article from Speaking In Doctrine also gives a good explanation on why;

[because we are all sinners, we don’t naturally seek]… after God but [we] may do a great job seeking after the benefits of God. For example, someone may want peace in their life and attend church activities but do not want to repent from their sin. Their seeking is lead by a self-fulfilling desire rather than a desire to honor God. True God-seeking will only come when our heart is changed by the Holy Spirit and are given new desires. (Excerpt from, Speaking In Doctrines, Posted by C-LOS - October 29th, 2010)

What is Really Good Then?
If the goal of being good is to enter the kingdom of heaven, then we cannot expect a perfect God to allow us back into eternal life without repayment of the original sin. Doing so, would prove God unjust and unholy. Our God is just and He is holy, and therefore requires payment for sin. This payment has been made for us, through the death of Jesus Christ, a perfect life sacrificed. Through one man, God banished us from eternal life through the disobedience of Adam. And through one man, God in the flesh as Jesus Christ, he also redeemed us re-entrance. John MacArthur, a well known writer and minister once said that there are two religions in the world: human attainment and divine accomplishment.
All other religions in the world trust in some degree in human merit for salvation. Only Christianity understands that man is imperfect and only capable of reaching God through the gate of the only man to reach God’s standards.
The difference between doing good as a non-Christian and doing good as a Christian is that the Christian good works are the inspired deeds of a life striving to please God first and not man. The fruits of love and service come as a by-product from accepting and seeking after a life lived pursuing Jesus as the gate into heaven. Doing good works never gains our entry into heaven, because we are not good, our standards are too low, and we are incapable of sustaining good intentions. Instead, eternal life in heaven is given by the grace of God; a free gift from the God that understands us, because He created us. The grace to enter the kingdom of heaven because of who God is:


Friday, December 10, 2010

About Me

I've spent a good deal of my life trying to figure out how to describe myself, for some reason it's rather difficult.

But there are a few things I'm sure of, like: I think my name in Spanish means: What, YES! And, I'm a mom and married to my first love and highschool sweetheart. I have two beautiful and very different daughters. I haven't yet figured out what I'd like to be when I grow up. So far I've been everything from photographer to a vet tech and many in between. I eat red meat, I play the violin a little, and I follow Christ. I cherish moments alone with a cup of coffee, and I enjoy playing card games. But I think my favorite description About Me, is from the book of Isaiah which simple states: You are the potter, I am the work of your hands.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Retraction: A Major Ooops

I've only had to write one retraction blog before in several years of blogging. It was in response to a blog I wrote about Biblical reasons to support Obama. The retraction pretty much said "never mind, I was wrong".

But this time, the retraction is much more personal. I am very embarrassed and sorry to say that my #52 in the previous blog stated I had no friends when I moved to Texas.

Let me tell you a story about one of my very best friends, Victoria.

When I met Victoria, I called her Vickie, even though I think she hated being called that (she told me it rhymed with things like Icky, and Sticky). She had just started working at Sonic right after I had. We were both carhops and remember "the way we use to do it back then". School afternoons were spent sectioning cheese squares out onto trays (so they could be easily grabbed by the cooks) and stuffing greasy bags full of 7 tater tots each (so the cooks could also just grab them and dump quickly). They don't do that anymore. We also remember what it was like to carry a change counter on our hip. They don't do that anymore either.

Victoria was my partner in crime. We spent many nights together at Sonic Drive in playing "Truth or Dare" and you could see us shoving ice down each other's shirts, or walking around the store OINKING. We drove our manager crazy!

She also drove a hot little red sports car with T-Tops, which was incredibly fun to ride in, and we made several trips down to Santa Fe to eat Red Lobster. (We have an inside joke about the crab crackers and Pretty Woman.)

Even her family called me their second daughter, and during my Senior year of highschool when I was too smart to live at home with my own mom, Victoria's family let me live with them. Many summer nights were traded laughing hillariously with each other. One of our favorite passtimes was hanging out in greeting card stores laughing at funny greeting cards. I swear, no one laughs with me the way she does. She gets my humor, and I get hers.

When I went away to college, we had great plans of rooming together the following year. (Vic was a year behind me), alas this did not work out for me and we were separated when I moved to North Carolina. Josh got out of the military and we decided to move to Dallas. About a year later, I got a phone call from Vic (who now went by Victoria) saying she was thinking of moving to Dallas! I was SO EXCITED!!
We spent many weekends together, and danced a blue streak through several local bars. (Dancing on the speakers together was ours specialty!)

I was super excited when she got married, and became a stepmom and had her baby boy Trevor. I was amazed and wowed at her ambition to create her own custom bedding for Trevor, and volunteered to help show her how to use the sewing machine. (I'm still not sure if I showed you correctly or not! ha!) With the help of her friend Cecilie we through her a baby shower and enjoyed watching her go through all the mothering pains of laying on the bathroom floors, and first steps, and second steps.

Vic has been one of my dearest friends for so long, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I totally flubbed that in my last blog!

Love you, Vickie! Please forgive my insensitivity...you truly are the friend I have shared the longest, and I am so grateful for your friendship.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

115 Things About Me

I'm totally stealing this idea from Shelly.

1. I grew up in Oklahoma and moved to New Mexico when I was 13.
2. We moved because my mom was tired of the rat race pace of life that followed her graphic art business she ran from our house.
3. I loved living in NM more than OK b/c OK girls wore heels to school and carried a purse.
4. NM girls wear sandals or hiking boots and carry a backpack.
5. I still have my favorite Teva sandals and hiking boots in my closet.
6. I am married to my highschool sweetheart, Josh.
7. When I met him my favorite number was 15.
8. His was 51.
9. I swore I would never be the wife of a military man.
10. Josh was enlisted in the army for 6 years.
11. I was excited to travel abroad with my new army husband.
12. We stayed at Ft. Bragg, NC all 6 years.
13. I have two daughters.
14. Both were surprises.
15. I love surprises.
16. Jada was born in NM while Josh was away at army boot camp.
17. Josh was gone for 6 months.
18. This was the longest time I have ever been away from Josh for 19 years.
19. He is my best friend.
20. But I hate it when he calls me that.
21. I spend a lot of time thinking about things.
22. Clouds.
23. Birds.
24. The reason why I try to be a people pleaser.
25. (Let me know if this post is boring you)
26. I can make a Halloween costume out of anything in the house.
27. Halloween use to be my favorite holiday.
28. Making two costumes every year is really time consuming.
29. I am pretty judgemental about other people.
30. Josh has told me this.
31. He’s also told me I am condescending.
32. He has regretted telling me this. I bring it up often.
33. I love shellfish.
34. And butter.
35. My kids think it’s gross that I sometimes eat pats of butter when I bake.
36. I’m not overly concerned.
37. I was voted “Best Eyes” in my highschool yearbook.
38. I also organized the “Best of the Best” contest. :: wink ::
39. I hate doing laundry.
40. But I hate throwing old clothes away.
41. I have mounds of clothes throughout my bedroom floor in various stages of clean, slightly clean, dirty, and give away.
42. Josh does a lot of laundry at our house, but he hates putting it away.
43. See #41.
44. I am consistantly amazed at what a lovely young lady my daughter Jada is turning out to be.
45. I give full credit to God for her. She is nothing like I was as a teenager.
46. I pray every day that she doesn’t get bored of being “a good kid”.
47. I’m slightly scared about this, in fact.
48. Jyllian is completely different than Jada was at her age.
49. I’m also slightly scared about this.
50. I can roll my tongue into a clover shape.
51. I use to be able to whistle, but cannot anymore.
52. I had zero friends for the first 7 years I lived in Texas.
53. I met my closest friend at work.
54. When I met her, I immediately gained another close friend.
55. We call each other “Pals”.
56. One of my favorite movies is Young Guns about Billy the Kid.
57. Billy the Kid’s headstone has the word “Pals” written on it.
58. When one of us says something that another one does not like, we call each other ‘dead’.
59. But we’ve never really killed anyone.
60. Yet.
61. I love to write.
62. But I lose focus because I have so much that I want to write about.
63. I have 4 half-finished journals.
64. I always buy a new one before I’m done with one.
65. I have a hard time finishing a lot of things.
66. (I’m considering shortening this list.)
67. I love to travel.
68. I’ve never been outside the US, and have only visted 6 states.
69. I'd love to travel more.
70. My first plane ride was at 7 years old.
71. I was alone.
72. They use to give you airplane wings, and let you visit the cockpit when you were 7.
73. Two years ago I sent my two girls to see grandma on their fist plane ride together.
74. Alone.
75. I've never flow with another person I knew. I've always flown alone.
76. This July Josh and I will get to fly together for the first time ever.
77. Josh jumped out of airplanes in the army.
78. Josh and I have figured out that we probably met each other before I ever moved to NM.
79. He had a friend that was friends with my cousin.
80. I seem to recall meeting a “Josh” at this friend’s house.
81. My mom almost bought a chicken farm in Arkansas instead of moving to NM.
82. I toured 3 different ones with her, and still cringe at the thought of spending my highschool years as a chicken farmer's daughter.
83. I sometimes think about the circumstances that led me to where I am now.
84. Sometimes these thoughts bring me great joy.
85. Sometimes they bring me some sadness.
86. I am an only child to my mother and father.
87. I have 3 half brothers, 1 half sisters, and 1 step brother and two step sisters.
88. I am close to my half-siblings.
89. I have never met my step siblings.
90. My mother has been married 4 times.
91. My father has been married twice.
92. I will be married 16 years this year.
93. I have no desire to be divorced.
94. Ever.
95. I sometimes want to write a book called “Yesterday’s Child”.
96. Remembering that my sister would never have been part of my life, changes that desire.
97. I love her.
98. She and I have had many differences.
99. I was pretty mean to her when we were little.
100. At least she thinks I was.
101. I really just wanted to be “adult”.
102. I was also kind of jealous.
103. I tell her things I would never tell another soul in 100 years.
104. She sometimes uses that against me.
105. I don’t mind.
106. She has a son.
107. His name is Jack.
108. Jack is my most FAVORITE little boy in the world.
109. I have two nephews.
110. Jack is totally smarter than a 4th grader.
111. Jack is half black.
112. This is a sensative subject for some people.
113. It’s a non-issue for me.
114. I really just want to pretend that people are people no matter what color their skin is.
115. That’s pretty hard to do in this world.