The Case for an Ordinary Life

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No one likes to think that they’re an ordinary person. But the facts are against them. Out of the billions of people who have breathed the air of this earth across the ages, how many of them can you yourself name? How many of them do you actually care about? How many of them did great things that got them into history books?

Face it; you’re statistically likely to be one of those people. It’s very probable that you’re not going to write a book that changes thousands of lives, or start a cultural revolution that changes the course of a nation, or make a heroic choice that saves the lives of a hundred children, or anything else grand that your imagination might come up with.

But you mean the world to someone. You might not even know that you do. The someone might not even know that you do.

Few great acts ever reach us. We hear about them on the news, and we admire the good that they’ve done. What does reach us are the little acts of goodness, the choices that the people around us make every day to care about whether we have had dinner or not, to listen to us when we just need to get something out, to make sure our cars are filled with gas, and to pick up our favorite kind of gum at the store just because we were asking for gum the other day. We don’t often notice these choices, because they’re not extraordinary choices, but we would certainly notice if the people making those choices were gone.

Think about all the people in your life that it would destroy you for a time to lose. There are people who feel that way about you, even if you do nothing for them.

Don’t get caught up in the desire to do great things. Of course, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t do great things if the opportunity comes along and it’s something that God has given you a passion for. I mean that often, it feels like something’s not worth doing because it’s not big or important. Don’t buy into that. You can waste your whole life trying to figure out what one big good thing you’re meant to do and miss a million small good things that will change the lives of the people God has put in your life.

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

The Trouble with Church

Ah, yes, the standard church service. The time when the body of Christ comes together to study the Word and consider spiritual matters. During this time, we quiet our hearts and minds and meditate on the Lord’s love for us.

If only it were that easy.

Church is absolutely teeming with distractions. The fussy baby behind you. The fellow saints who shuffle in late (I’m guilty of this, so I can’t really throw stones here). The motorcycle that speeds by loudly outside. If your church is anything like mine, you may have a time of reflection before the official service begins. As they feel lead, the men stand up and share thoughts pertaining to the events at Calvary. This is wonderful until you’re in the middle of an intense prayer session and someone pops up out of the clear blue to share the scriptures, effectively throwing off your groove. Now, I can’t cast all blame on external forces. I’m a very easily distracted person. My mind can go from whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable to Josh Groban’s Twitter feed in seconds. Admittedly, I tend to shut my brain down when I feel like the information isn’t directly applicable to my life. What to do, what to do?

All jokes aside, if focus isn’t your strongest suit, I’ve got some tips for you to stay present with the Lord during times like these.

  1. Plan ahead. Study up on future sermons. Is your church going through a particular book of the Bible? Is there a certain topic your church is exploring, such as the fruits of the spirit, or handling current issues as a Christian? Familiarize yourself with the content, it’ll get you invested. Concerning quiet times (if your church practices this), I like to try to have a specific prayer topic in mind. Have you thanked the Lord for His offer of salvation lately? If not, now’s a good time to start! Be open to where He may direct your heart, of course. I just find that it helps to stay focused when I have a plan of action, or even somewhere to start.
  1. Practice your note taking and utilize the tools at your disposal. The sage wisdom of note taking. It’s an excellent way to stay focused. Some speakers may provide outlines of their sermons, which is a great aid, so utilize them. However, if outlines are not available, nothing beats your notes. Writing things in your own words makes it all the more personal. As an added bonus, studies have shown that when people take notes, they retain the information for a longer amount of time. As if that wasn’t enough, many churches these days record their sermons and make them available to the public via the Internet. Even if you miss something, the information is still there for you. Handy!
  1. Inquire of the Lord. We can’t accomplish anything without the Lord’s help. Continually seek Him out. Ask Him to give you focus and a desire to draw near to Him. When you find your mind wandering, take your thoughts captive, and ask Him to rope you back in – He will every time.

With all this being said, I must admit that I’m preaching to myself. As stated before, I’m a very easily distracted person. All the emphasis goes to point number 3. Focus is a skill that requires much practice. But if the Lord requires it of us (Colossians 3:2), surely He will provide what we need in order to achieve it (John 14:26).

How God is Sexist (Part 2)

black-and-white-faces-of-man-and-womanRead Part 1 here.

I have a lot of problems with third-wave feminism. For one, I find that it is often self-contradictory. While it claims to want to give women the right to choose to be or do whatever they want, but the movement looks down on women who don’t fit feminism’s definition of “strong” or empowered”. For example, working-at-home, conservative, traditional women. We must all be like Katniss Everdeen, never like Bella Swan. We all have to be Elsa, not Cinderella.

What has this movement done? Defined female success in men’s terms, not women’s. If men are tough and unemotional, we have to be tough and unemotional. If men have jobs in certain fields, we have to have jobs in those fields. Everything men are good at, we have to be good at. But this is no two-way street. No one is urging men to quit their jobs and let their wives support them, or to make their primary responsibility the care of a household and children. This is because we’ve decided that the roles that women have historically filled aren’t good enough anymore. We would like to deny that women and men are biologically better suited for the roles that they have historically filled. We forget that those both roles are absolutely necessary.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Here we see different roles in the context of a marriage. Wives are to submit to and respect their husbands. Husbands are to nourish and love their wives. What do women want from men? Protection and security. What do men want from women? Respect and support. Both sexes want a lot of other things too, depending on the individual person being examined. But in general, that’s what I’ve found. I, as a woman, want protection and security from men. The men I know want women who will respect and support them. These basic desires are reflected in the Bible.

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:2-5)

Working at home? Pure? Kind and submissive? Not exactly society’s idea of an empowered woman. But it should be ours. A truly empowered woman is one who gives herself up for other people. The same goes for a man. We do it in different ways and through different roles, and that’s okay. Women have their own strengths, and they’re not men’s strengths, and that’s okay too.

We hear all the time that we should celebrate our differences. And yet, we also hear that there’s no real difference between men and women. Every gender-specific role that we fill is supposedly the result of social constructs. This is simply not true, on levels as basic as biology and psychology.

Sisters, let’s start celebrating the differences between men and women, instead of pretending like they don’t exist.

Let’s serve God within the parameters he has set forward for us, instead of deciding that we know better than God what our boundaries should be. 

Let’s define true success not in men’s terms or in women’s terms, but in God’s terms.

The Stages of Christian Relationships

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“We’re talking.”

“We’re waiting to see where the Lord leads.”

“We’re getting to know each other better.”

“We’re considering furthering our relationship.”

When it comes to Christian dating, the phrases above are famous ones. Most of them are ambiguous, trite, and often are imbedded with double meanings. I find that when these phrases are used, the speaker is almost unsure of what they mean themselves by saying them. Each of the statements attempt to describe a stage of a relationship. It has come to my attention that there many more stages involved in a Christian relationship compared to those relationships that are of a secular nature. If you have dated as a Christian, if you are currently dating as a Christian, or if you will date as a Christian, you have mostly likely been in, are in, or will be in one of the following relationship stages at some given point during your dating career.

1. The “I Mean, I’m Interested in Him” Stage

During this stage, there is usually no substantial relationship involved beyond a friendship. The two of you may be friends, you may have caught him staring at you from across the church pews, or you may just really enjoy talking him even though you don’t get to very often. You are interested in him, but you’re not sure if you would necessarily consider dating him. It’s what most people with a secular view would call a “crush.” This stage can last for over a year, or less than two weeks. But what do you say when your friends ask you if you like him? You say, “I mean, I’m interested…”

2. The “We’re Talking, I Guess…” Stage

This is possibly the most commonly abused stage. This stage represents the period of time during which either you or him have somewhat expressed you feelings toward each other, but there has been little to no talk of the future of the relatioship. Yet, the two of you continue to talk to one another with a vaguely romantic pretense. “Talking” is a slippery slope upon which many have struggled to keep their balance. At this stage, you are aware of your mutual feelings, but you are both usually too immature or scared to be the one to open up a channel of communication regarding a future relationship. But what do you say when your friends ask you if you and him are in a relationship?” You say, “I mean, we’re talking… I guess.”

3. The “We’re Seeking God’s Will For Us” Stage

This stage is essentially a more intense version of the “talking” stage. In many cases, this stage can be combined with the: “He’s going to ask my dad soon” stage. Both you and him usually have plans to date in the future, but you both feel that you should wait before making anything official, regardless of the fact that the only thing about your relationship that isn’t official is the fact that you don’t feel like calling yourselves official just yet. You post pictures together on social media, talk on the phone, and are associated together in all your friends’ minds, even though you’re not officially dating.

4. The “Dating” Stage

Goodness gracious it’s about time.