Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

“Christmas is simple…and complex!”

That’s what my pastor said this morning in church and I quickly jotted it down.

The baby in the manger.  Simple.

That’s God in the manger.  We get that. (well that’s complex to grasp but not the point of the post – so we move on! lol!)

But baking cookies, decorating, shopping, wrapping, attending parties, concerts and family get togethers –makes it all seem SO complex.

So I googled “How to have a Perfect Christmas” and I found this list on-line:

  • Enjoy the build up
  • Have a Christmas movie night
  • Read a Christmas book like “The Christmas Carol”
  • Shop on-line
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Create a Christmas tradition like buy a new decoration or make a new treat
  • Get the best wrapped present award
  • Go ice skating, visit the most decorated houses in the area or go to a craft fair

There’s no birthday cake for Jesus on that list, but that should not come as a surprise as this is our chance to take Jesus to opposite world!  We are the light of the world!

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you took the Christ child out of Christ-mas.  Since I grew up in a Christian home – celebrating Jesus as “the reason for the season” is all I know.  But for some of you – you came to Christ later in life and you know what it’s like to do Christmas minus Christ.

The world has mangled the meaning of Christ-mas.  They have cluttered it with a gazillion meaningless things to the point that we as Christians can hardly find the Christ child in the midst of our own mounds of toys and cookie trays!

And we are tempted to be self-indulgent. We want to have what opposite world has. But do we realize that all those magazines and pinterest pins void of Christ, add up to nothing. Their promise is fleeting.  There’s a momentary happiness that will dissappar at the strike of midnight on Christmas day and come December 26th –we will wake with a hollow feeling of guilt.

We must step out of this horrific dreamland marketers have tried to sell us, void of Jesus and be still with Jesus.

But here’s where we start to wade into opposite world’s waters…all the days of planning, purchasing, decorating, baking and wrapping can fill us with expectations this world can never fulfill.

One lost parking spot, one fight with your husband or one rude comment from a family member…and Christmas begins to unravel and become less than dreamy.  This less than dreamy reality serves as a reminder that all opposite world offers –is empty.

Movie nights, ginger bread houses and letters to Santa Claus cannot compare to the the joy that comes from knowing and walking with the King of Kings!

As Christ followers, we must not chase the next rainbow, the next high, the next good thing, rather than chasing our Savior – God – born in the manger.

Our Christmas must look different.

We must not miss Christ.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”~Luke 2:6,7

Stop right there.  Where were the women in this story?  Where was the innkeeper’s wife? The innkeeper could clearly see she was expecting!  Why didn’t he call the mid-wives?  Where’s her mother-in-law?  The town was so full of people there were no rooms in the inn – yet this poor young girl gives birth with no one but Joseph at her side?  Where was the baby shower and new clothes?  She didn’t have baby clothes, so she wrapped him in cloths?

No one was mean to them…they just weren’t there!  Were the women too busy taking care of their own families?  Surely, taking care of our own families is a good and noble thing – but God was being born!  And they missed it!

How can we not miss Christ this Christmas?

Matthew 25:34-40 tells us:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

There it is.  Giving, inviting, clothing, looking after and visiting…strangers, prisoners, the needy, the hurting around us.  Whatever we have done for someone we see in need –we have done for Christ.

This is what sets us apart from the “perfect Christmas” that opposite world offers.  The focus is not on us – the focus is on Christ.

Chime In – This Friday, I will share practical ways to keep Christ in Christmas.  But until then, *chime in* in the comment section and share – what are some ways your family keeps Christ in Christmas.  I’d like to include some of your thoughts in Friday’s post!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Women Friendships {In Opposite World}

Women Friendships In Opposite World

 

I got a phone call a few years back from a friend at church.  The girl called me to talk about our friendship that seemed strained. She called to see if anything was wrong (I LOVE that she took the time to call me).  I really had no issue with her –only that I could sense that she didn’t really like me. And I accepted the fact that not everyone in the world is going to like this fast talking, loud laughing, Bible girl…so I had made peace with it. We were polite in the halls at church but there was no real friendship.

So when she called to ask what was wrong? I didn’t know what to say…only that I felt like she didn’t like me but I didn’t know why.  Then she said it. She said her reason why.

“I don’t like the cheerleader type.  You were a cheerleader in school weren’t you?”

I gasped for words…I mean yes – I was *guilty* of being a cheerleader BUT we were grown adults with children.  I’m NOT a cheerleader now (unless yelling for my son while he dribbles down the court counts lol!)… nor have I been one in over 15 years!  So this felt like a strange thing to hold against me. Then she told me the story of some hurtful things cheerleaders did to her  in high school.

But these girls were not me and I was certainly not them. We are sisters in Christ –commanded to love one another – but the world had lied to her.  It told her that “my type” didn’t like “her type”. And “her type” had better not sell out to being friends with “my type.” The world had pitted us against each other before we even knew each other.

And the worst part –we are in the same family, the family of God.  We are are both the same type — sinners saved by grace. Two women, two wives, two mamas, –struggling in this fleeting world to live for Jesus. We share the same heart –truly this woman is a woman of God and we are the beauti{full} bride of Christ.

And oh church – when will we get this right? When will we realize that we live in opposite world and the world has lied to us and told us that size matters, color of skin matters, type of car matters, size of house matters, color of eyes matter, hair style matters, fashion matters, the guy on your arm matters, the number of children matters…

NONSENSE–it all does not matter in God’s economy!!!!!!!

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ I Samuel 16:7

And we are all just a little messed up and twisted from years of drinking Opposite World’s Koolaid.

“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

When we are in God’s word – he untwists the mess in our minds and truth takes the place of lies.

Friends, we must stop looking at the outer appearance of the girl in the pew beside us and placing judgements.  We are the family of God, one in Christ!  Our love for each other must look different than the world’s divisions.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35

How will the world know we are Jesus’ disciples?

By our love for one another.

Without a word.

People will know.

Just by our love.

Isn’t that powerful?!

Let’s walk in this truth and show Opposite World women friendships that love each other across worldly divides. We are one in Christ!

Chime In: How are your women friendships within your church?  Have you found a love that supersedes divides or has this been a struggle for you?  Share about a friendship where God has worked across divides in your life.

Walk with the King,

Women Living Well {In Opposite World} – Conclusion

WLW in Opposite World conclusion

I broke one of my writing rules during this {Opposite World} series.  It’s an unspoken rule I have…

The rule is –

Never write against things…but rather write for – what God is for.

I want to be for women being in God’s word and walking with the King.

I want to be for strong marriages.

I want to be for gentle, grace and gospel-filled mothering.

I want to be for women valuing the beautiful and powerful role they have in their home.

But there is opposition in this world — and it comes from God’s enemy, the Father of lies.  He is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)

And sometimes we have to speak up and speak against deception to protect our families from the lies of the Opposite World.

So I broke my unspoken rule…and it made me very uncomfortable as every post in this series brought opposition and heat to my inbox.

I am relieved to bring this series to an end because it’s hard staying in a pressure cooker…stirring the pot to the glory of God.  There are other bloggers out there who do this so well –I’m not sure I’m cut out for it.

Each time I would hit the “publish” button my stomach churned a little bit.  Each email that came in, I took a deep breath before opening. I wondered if this is the one that will rip into me with the enemy’s venom.  I quickly hit delete on those and moved forward.  Others were filled with encouragement and touching stories which brought me both comfort and strength.

I am so thankful for an open forum where we can talk about these issues and I want to say thank you to so many of you who were so very gracious to me and to each other in the comment section!

I feel like I’ve made it to an imaginary finish line with this series — I could have kept this series going as I have more thoughts on my mind, but I’ve decided it’s time to bring it all to a close and go back to following my unspoken rules :) .

Here’s a recap of the series in case you missed some:

Women Living Well {In Opposite World} – (intro)

Learning to Accept My Muffin Top {In Opposite World}

Having Babies {In Opposite World}

Respecting Your Husband {In Opposite World}

Being Modest {In Opposite World}

The Husband as the Head of the Home {In Opposite World}

 Slowing Down {In Opposite World}

Pure Hope {In Opposite World}

Being a Creationist {In Opposite World}

Thank you for joining me on this journey toward being Women Living Well.

On Friday, I will share with you my new July series. I pray that it will lift you up and encourage you as we pursue being for what God is for!

Walk with the King,

Being a Creationist {In Opposite World}

Being a creationist in opposite world

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. ~ I Peter 3:15

Our homeschool group went to the Natural History Museum in May.  We started out the day with a presentation in the planetarian.  The lights went dark and the speaker began.

“Billions of years ago there was a dense ball of energy that expanded and formed our universe.”

………………………..really?

One of the other moms said our sons both whispered out loud “wrong!”

Then this speaker explained the marvelous galaxies that our God created and I sat there in awe.

We serve an awesome God!

We went on and explored the fascinating museum of God’s creation and as we finished the dinosaur exhibit we saw this sign:

IMG_1889

Bombarded!

Since the day I’ve begun checking books out of the library to teach my children science – we have been bombarded by Opposite World’s theory of evolution.  It’s everywhere!  Just this week I got a science book from the library and here’s how it begins:

evolution 3)

Believing that the God of the Bible created the earth is no longer the default teaching and our children need to be prepared to give answers and to recognize right from wrong.

This is not a new modern problem.  When I was in high school, I carried my Bible with me to my public school everyday.  In the back of my Bible, I had these notes jotted down to help me when I was confronted by other students who challenged my beliefs.  The middle section on the right was written to help me answer evolution.

evolution 2

It has never been easy for believers in Opposite World.  The opposition has many tools in their tool belt.  One is insulting our intelligence for believing in a book of fairy tales.

Friends, there is a spiritual battle happening around us.  And when Opposite World removes God from the equation, then they remove all responsibility to Him.  There’s no Adam and Eve, there’s no sin nature, and there’s no need for a redeemer named Jesus.  God’s word becomes obsolete and the way Christians live their lives becomes a reason for ridicule.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. ~ I Peter 3:15

 We must be prepared to give answers with gentleness and respect…and…

We must give our children the tools they need to defend their faith – to give an intelligent, gentle answer to those who will question them.  Because they WILL be questioned.  Here’s some of the ways I have defended my faith when asked:

1.)  I appeal to reason.  Is it possible to take a bunch of pieces of metal throw them up in the air and get a watch that works and tells time perfectly? No, clearly every watch has a watch maker.  In the same way, our amazing bodies are made with eyes that see out of a tiny black circle and hands with unique finger prints and a womb to birth babies.  It is so intricate and complex!  The human body alone is evidence of an intelligent designer.

2.) I appeal to facts.  If we are a part of evolution why do we not see half monkey/half men still walking the earth and evolving today?  Also, when animals adapt and change they micro-evolve, meaning within their breed there may be changes – but we never see dogs changing into giraffes.  Each animal produces after their own “kind”.  In Genesis 1 when God  created the animals He said: 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

God did not create evolution.  He created animals to only reproduce after their own kind.

3.) I appeal to faith.  Did you see the big bang happen? Do you have pictures of it?  Did I see creation happen? Do I have pictures of it?

Nope – neither of us have 100% concrete evidence.  It takes a leap of faith to believe in creationism AND it takes a leap of faith to believe in the big bang theory.

One conclusion: If I’m wrong and the big bang theory is right – my faith in the God of the Bible has cost me to lose nothing.  But if I’m right and the God of the Bible is true – those who believe in the big bang theory are subject to hell.  It is certainly not something to quickly dismiss.

I am barely scratching the surface here of all the questions that are raised about creationism.  But let me give you some on-line resources that you can use to first equip yourself and then equip your children.

AnswersInGenesis.org – is a great place to start!

I have always found all of Ravi Zacharias’ books and videos helpful – he is a skilled apologist.  His youtube channel here is great.

The Way of the Master – Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution - has great resources too!

And finally, Josh McDowell.  I started reading his books in high school and he helped me through many difficult conversations. Evidence Demands a Verdict  is one of my favorite books and I highly recommend it if you have a child who is asking for more evidence of God’s word being true.

 Chime In:  According to I Peter 3:15, we are called to give Opposite World an answer when they ask for our reason of hope. Please share in the comment section any resources or thoughts that would help us be more equipped to answer.

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

Pure Hope {In Opposite World}

Pursuing Purity in Opposite World

Tim Tebow took the news media by storm when he shared that he was saving himself for marriage.  Opposite World simply hates his desire to be pure.  Anyone who believes in abstinence before marriage is painted as looney.

Opposite World tells our teens to be free –just be safe.  Use protection.  Use birth control. Anything and everything goes – boys with boys, girls with girls.  And definitely do not end up 23 and a virgin.  That’s worthy of being laughed at and even questioned –is something wrong with you?  Try out all your partners and be sure you are compatible.  Live together first.  Do not marry young –you can’t possibly know at 23 what you want in a spouse.  So have fun, live it up, try a few partners and don’t be a prude.

Oy!  Where do I start?

Let’s start with Jesus.

The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14

When Jesus came –he came full of grace and truth.

Grace – sweet grace.  I NEED God’s grace.

Truth – sweet truth.  I NEED God’s truth.

And so as I wade into the mirky waters of purity, I cling to both equally.  Jesus was full of grace AND truth.

Opposite World has been sending us messages for decades about how useless purity is.  And my testimony includes saving myself for marriage.  My husband has been my one and only and I am his one and only.

 Keith and I in Colorado

I did not play hard to get.

I was hard to get.

Where did these standards come from?  My parents. My youth pastor. Purity talks. Purity Books. And God’s word.

I Thessalonians 4:3-8 says:

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own bodyin a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

As a teen, I read the Bible daily.  I believed it and I obeyed it.  My committment to Christ was and still is a priority over my passions and desires.

Thank goodness Keith and I started out slow because little did I know at the age of 17, we would date for four long years before marrying and passions would burn inside of us as we battled with temptatation.

God created sex as a pure expression of love between a man and his wife and Opposite World… has twisted and perverted it.

 John Piper writes:

“The world should not have its nose or its cameras in our bedroom.

Sex is not a spectator sport – in spite of the billion-dollar industry designed to make it one…it has an audience of three: husband, wife and God, who sees all.” (This Momentary Marriage pg. 128)

Opposite World has degraded the marriage bed.

Purity is mocked and immorality glorified. The singers and actors applauded with Oscars, Emmys and other awards, flaunt their sexuality and Opposite World idolizes it!

But God says ” Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

Opposite World’s lie –is the lie of the Garden of Eden,

“did God really say that?”

Some question –does God really say a man should not lie with a man? (yes, he does in Romans 1 & I Corinthians 6:9-11)  Does God really say we should wait for marriage? (yes, he does in I Corinthians 6:18 & I Thess. 4:3-8)  Does God really expect me to stay with one person for the rest of my life? (yes, he does in Hebrews 13:4, Mark 10:8,9, I Corinthians 7:5, & Proverbs 5;19)

And sadly, sometimes, I see the enemy’s whispers persuading even those within the church to look just.like.Opposite.World.

This ought not to be so!

We must be in God’s word.  We must know God’s word. We must obey God’s word. We must teach our sons and daughters God’s word…or the enemy will whisper the Garden of Eden doubts and get a foothold in our lives.

This is not about our past–but about our future.  Some of us may have stumbled and fallen and there is GRACE!   There is no sin too great that Jesus’ blood cannot cover.  In John 8:11 Jesus tells the woman caught in s*xual sin “go and sin no more.” And he tells those who were about to stone her –”let he who is perfect cast the first stone”.

None of us are perfect.  The cross says we are all flawed and in need of a Savior.  None of us can cast stones and now that we are equipped with God’s truth –  all of us must go and sin no more.

The church needs a revival of Pure Hope.

**Chime In: I know this is a senstive topic – I don’t expect you to hang it all out there in the comments – but if you would like to share your story of Pure Hope - or your thoughts on this topic –we’d love to read it.

Walk with the King,