Nothing but silhouettes of trees against the skies - but don't you love the colors of the sunsets?
I always find it sad when the bad stuff of this world gets all the attention. And I think we all agree - there's a LOT of bad stuff (and that's an understatement!). We're bombarded daily with it all. Just a trip to the store I see far more than I ever wanted to on that given day. I try to do my part in keeping some semblance of decency while outside the home but it truly feels like I'm a tiny drop of water in an ocean of strangeness. It feels like we're living in some science fiction futuristic movie where the people are all just unreal. It feels a little like the Twilight Zone where nothing makes sense. It can feel overwhelming with what we see and what we hear. I'll ask it again - when in the world did this all happen? The dress, the attitudes, the words, the boldness, the rudeness, the complacency, the vulgarity, the morals........
For those of us who care about what this is doing to us, to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, we need to have within us the need to find what is still okay, what is still good, what is still beautiful. We all need hope for the future and first that hope is in Jesus. From there we go on looking for things that we can count it all joy. Here are a few of my joy finds:
*a new baby - we have a LOT of them at church right now and every time I see one, my heart melts. They are complete joy - what a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*praise and worship songs - I absolutely cannot be still while singing praise and worship songs - they bring such joy to my soul and my whole being feels it.
*friendships - the old and the new - people to talk to, to care about you, and for you to care about brings about a joy that warms the heart.
*family - I know. Families are difficult. But there are certain members of family that bring great joy to us and we are so grateful that they are in our lives.
*work - getting up in the morning knowing that you are making a difference, being busy and productive gives us joy and satisfaction.
*good books - we can choose books that delight us and take us to a different time and place where we meet people with good morals and standards for living and is a joy to pick it up every day and get away for a while.
*What are your joys in life? What is it that you can concentrate on when life makes you feel like there is no such thing as joy anymore? What can you do for others that will make their lives better and help them to remember that there really is a thing called decency and manners?
My "homework" assignment for you this week is to begin to make your home into a place of being different than the world outside the home. It should be VERY different than what we are seeing and hearing about. It should be clean, it should be pretty, it should be organized, it should honor the Lord, it should be fun, it should hear laughter (and often), it should be pleasant, it should be comfortable, it should be modest, it should be filled with love and care for each other, it should be safe, it should keep the good things in and keep the bad things out, it should be filled with good memories and the wanting of making more.
It seems like a tall order but it CAN be done if we're serious about finding and keeping the joy in this crazy mixed-up world we live in. Don't give up in trying. God blesses our efforts. He knows our hearts and He will definitely help us in this area because it's something that He wants for us too.
God bless you and your family this week as you continue to find the joy!
What a great list, Mary, of what our homes should look like! That's so true, that Christian homes should look, feel, and be completely different.ReplyDelete
It reminds me of when I was looking at church websites. We saw one sign from the freeway so I looked it up and the welcome video was from an intern who looked like he was an addict with crazy hair, tats and piercings all over. Seemed friendly, but my first thought was that we are called to look different from the world, and this isn't it. It may be more difficult to remove tattoos, but you can remove piercings from your face. Why was this guy the face of that church? What was doubly weird is I met a friend who attends that church and she didn't know what I was talking about - I showed her the video and she was shocked! He must have finished his internship???
I think the attitudes, morals, vulgarity, etc you mentioned come in waves, because we are studying the 1920's in our history books right now, and I'm kinda shocked at what all went on. The 30's - early 60's were more decent, then came the beatniks and hippies, which led to what we see now, is what I'm told. However, I'm seeing my son's generation (Z) swinging back to saner living, so there is hope!
In a way I do understand how some of the young-ish Christians feel the need to do the tattoos and piercings if they are truly trying to reach other young-ish people for Christ. We have friends who are a part of a big ministry group that go into some of the darkest places of this world - who have the tattoos and the piercings and the wild hair styles and they need to "fit in" so they can "get in" and once they're "in" they can proclaim the Gospel of Christ and through that these young people can see and recognize their sin and be saved. And it's through THAT they begin to change - the tattoos come off, the piercings grow over, and the hair is tamed. So....I do get it but for the rest of us who are trying to reach out to others for Jesus, we just need to do it in our way too. We don't have to be as extreme. God truly DOES love us all which is great news!!! : )Delete
Yep, we help support one minister and his wife who have piercings and tattoos who go into bars and places we would never go. Others, former hippies, go into places like Burning Man and host coffee bars along with prayers. I was once on the fringe of this culture as my ex was very into the new age, but I was never comfortable; I always sensed it wasn't of God. I had grown up in a Bible believing church and knew that all the books he gave me like God Calling, Course in Miracles, Sacred Geometry, and pagan christianity were truth twisted, but I was too young to know how. The words seemed right, but not completely, there was something off. NOW I get it. They've taken Christ's words and msg and corrupted the meanings. 90% may be correct, but the spin they put on it is false (like we know Jesus lives in us, that Emmanuel is God with us, but they say God is in everything and we are one with God - but that isn't the same thing). I couldn't put all the pieces together until I had read the entire Bible myself.Delete
Re the church website I mentioned above, I didn't complete my original thought - with that person as the spokesman, and having a young son, I didn't want him in that environment; I didn't want him to think that look was normal or okay. It's fine if you are a new Xn, or you evangelize in places like bars, but I vetoed many churches based on websites because I didn't want to attend a church where pink and blue hair and nose piercings or huge earlobes was considered normal. I have several women friends covered in tats and I love them as they are even though I disagree and don't understand why they do this.
Earlier, I had also made the decision to leave a church that was huge on prison outreach. I think it's a wonderful thing, but I left in my late 20's because I was sick of the prison mentality culture and didn't want to find a husband there. I began attending a church in a different county to escape that pervasive prison culture. Today, my DH and I give to six ministries that support people coming out of that culture, and we help put amazing illustrated Bibles into our state prisons, but I didn't want my son to grow up in the culture that I did.
So now, he is comfortable on all levels - we can attend events in the wealthy and fashionable areas of LA & OC, or in the poorer prison-mentality fashion areas and not feel uncomfortable, because I purposefully made sure he was accustomed to both and could see the good and bad sides of both cultures.
I still don't like it in my church though! I know many believe that is very narrow-minded of me. But I think back to Exodus where God told the people to wash their clothes to prepare for His arrival. Maybe that was just a foreshadowing of baptism? But I remember going to a neighbor's wedding - this man ALWAYS wore shorts and flip-flops every day no matter the occasion. But on his wedding day he wore a tux. My DH wore a suit, and I wore a long skirt. We invited them to our wedding, and the guy wore shorts and flip-flops. I remember we felt kinda offended - thinking, you don't care enough about us or cultural norms to dress up for our big day? How would he have felt if everyone came to his wedding in shorts and flip flops? He probably wouldn't have cared, but I'm sure his wife would have. And then I think, "shouldn't we dress up for God?" Not to show off our clothes, but because it is good manners. Not to mention most women's clothing (or lack of it) is highly distracting to men trying to worship God. If we dress up for weddings or even to go to see the Nutcracker, or attend a business meeting, or just out to a special dinner, I think we should also dress nicely to church, and not in shorts and flip flops.
I totally hear you and agree with you, Janine. That's one of the reasons I love Charles Stanley. He always talks about acting, looking, and being our best for our Lord - one Sunday a year our church dresses very casually because after service we go to a lake in our area and has a picnic and lake baptisms and it's VERY hard for me to wear jeans in church. So, again, I agree. But unfortunately in some countries these young unsaved people won't listen to anyone who likes to look nice and clean because they feel we can't relate (and I must admit that I wouldn't be able to relate) so there has to be someone who is willing to do the hard work - because once they are repentant, forgiven, and saved, I've heard they WANT to start looking nice and live differently. It just takes a LOT of patience on our part and see how God does change them.Delete
Yes, so true! I remember when my dad's best friend, in the late 1980's stopped wearing a suit to church and instead just wore a button down shirt, no tie, but nice slacks. He said too many people won't come to church because they don't want to wear a suit on Sunday. He didn't want clothes to get in the way and wanted to be welcoming to those without suits. Now it is hard to find men in suits ever on a Sunday, or in fact, on any day of the week. Sad, because men look so good in suits! But yes, I agree that we do need those who dress down and can relate to those that we can't reach/relate to, even here in America.Delete
It can be very disheartening indeed when we concentrate too much on all the bad in the world, and I love your list of positives, Mary. We must try and focus more attention on the blessings over the negatives. Let's face it, there are so many of them, but there are so many blessings too.ReplyDelete
I like the idea of making our homes the kind of places where people feel welcome, at peace, and that they are a haven from the chaos out in the world. I believe that through the way our homes "feel" and how we present ourselves, we can attract people to Christ. It is most certainly a "ministry", and one I love.
Hi Christine - I agree that all the bad stuff gets all the press. I wish there was a news station that only reported the good because I know it's out there!!! Lots of people are making real differences and doing what's right. We definitely need to persevere in our homes and keep up the work of bringing the good in. : ) God bless. MaryDelete