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Simple Expectations

We, humans in general, make things so complicated and convoluted. But God keeps things simple. Yes there are 613 laws in the Old Testament, but Jesus Himself says that every law is based in two simple all encompassing things:

Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT 

Why should you reimburse a neighbor for killing or injuring their livestock? Because it’s the right thing to do based on the law of love.

Why shouldn’t you commit adultery? Because the law of love invites you to do the right thing and honor & respect your spouse. 

Not complicated. Is it?

Paul repeated it in His letter to the Galatians in regards to true freedom…

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” Galatians 5:13-15 NLT 

Point to ponder while you wander…God does ask us to give things up, and let things go so He can help us grow up and walk with maturity in what He has for us. But He doesn’t require us to literally sacrifice anyone or anything. What He requires is simple and straight forward:

​”Should we offer Him thousands of rams & ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good & this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:7-8

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Identity Rant

As a teen and young adult I got really tired of the church telling me to do something with the “because I said so” and the “be good” reasoning. I still battle that desire to live inside the rule box.

I’m going to rant now- How about telling me the whole truth? The truth is that God actually set up marriage as a covering and a protection for women. Instead of trying to scare me with STDs and pregnancy! How about teaching me who I am in God? How about making me confident to know that I am worth marrying? How about telling me that any guy who would sleep with me outside of that covenant doesn’t actually respect me at all, no matter what he says? How about teaching guys HOW to respect women? How about teaching them how to be real men instead of guys, punks and dudes? How about teaching them who they are in God too?

Rant over. Rational blog to follow in 3, 2, 1….

There is a rampant identity crisis in this world. I’m not the only one who struggled with identity. And honestly, I don’t blame my parents or the churches I went to for my lack of identity. It’s not their fault, because they did not know what they were doing. They did their best with what they had and they loved me the best way they knew how. I had some very wonderful people in my world, truly. And I’m grateful.

But the fact remains that the world at large lies to kids. They do one of three things: The world scares the crap out of them and scars them for life, traps them in a ruled filled box, or tells them to do whatever they want. Not one of those things are actually Biblical, my friends!

Moses spent a lot of time telling the Children of Israel the importance of passing on what they learned about God and from God to their children. But they didn’t do it. So after Joshua died, the children of Israel went through a crazy cycle (Read Judges) of doing whatever they wanted, then crying out to God. God would send a deliverer, and then they’d stick with God for a generation. Then they’d start the cycle all over again.

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Training up doesn’t must mean to tell them do this and don’t do that! It means we need to show them how to make good decisions and why it matters. Most importantly though, we NEED to know who we are in God and we NEED to teach the next generation who they are in God. It is ESSENTIAL that they know because how you see yourself colors every decision you make (and the ones we don’t). Your identity feeds your perspective.

Before I really understood how much God adored me, I was willing to take what I could get. I coasted along living on crumbs. I don’t do that anymore, because I am the daughter of the Most High God. He has a good plan for me and I expect Him to do good things for me. I expect that when I screw up that He will it around for my good. Because that’s who He is and what He does! He’s a good God who restores and reconciles and regenerates and resurrects! And He is absolutely in love with us! With me! With you!

Here’s an intro to your identity in Christ:

Ladies, you are the representation of the beauty of God. You are the daughter of the most high. Zephaniah 3 says that God sings over you with joy. On the cross, you were the joy set before Jesus that made all that suffering WORTH IT! You are adored! So don’t settle for anything less than full respect and love.

Gentlemen, you are the representation of the warrior side of God. Sorry to tell you but having sex does not make you a man. Sorry. But it doesn’t. What makes you a man is you being responsible and respectful. Genesis 1 tells you that you are made in the image and likeness of God. You were created first to be a leader, a guardian and protector. It also means you have the power to create and sow good things! That’s who you were made to be. Don’t settle for being an immature boy or a guy who plays around, be a man.

Respecting Yourself

Modesty is about respecting yourself and those around you.  It’s not about cramping your style.  Modesty is not a swear word!  As a doting and protective aunt to some very beautiful tween girls and some rad tween boys and a “big sis” to some fabulous teens at my church, I get pretty fired up about topics relating to youth.  Modesty is one of those hot button ones for both parents and youth, so when I saw this I wanted to share it.  Jessica Rey has some good things to say no matter which end of the spectrum you are on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJVHRJbgLz8

I know that it can be tough for teens.  They are trying to figure out who they are, what they want to do with their lives, what they really believe all at the same time as their bodies are changing and their hormones are running rampant.  They have pressure from all sides.  From Friends.  Teachers.  Parents.  The world at large.  People call it the greatest time of your life, and maybe for some people that’s true.  But for many  it’s a really awkward and rough stretch.

Parents….your young people need some freedom to explore various clothing and hair styles within some reasonable boundaries of course. Cut them a break if they want to dye their hair some florescent color or cut in some strange style. It’s hair and it will grow back. Choose your battles based on what really matters. If girls want to wear Chucks with a dress…so what. Is the dress covering what it needs to cover? That’s the battle to fight, not the style or color of the dress or shoe choice. It’s also in for boys to wear neon skinny jeans. I don’t get it, but as long as their pants are pulled up, I’d consider that a success. I personally detest the dropped pants look on anyone, but if a kid wants to look foolish well, they’re going to do it. In my opinion, full grown adult men should NOT wear skinny jeans. Seriously men….don’t do it! EVER! But I don’t want to get started on that.

Young people…please be respectful of your parents. Example, if they’re taking you to a nice restaurant, dress appropriately. You can dress appropriately within your style. Some compromise goes a long long way here. I’d recommend not doing anything permanent to your body until you’re at least 25….i.e. tattoos. Who you are at 25 will probably be a long way from how you are at 13, 17 or 19 years of age. I’m not against tattoos at all. But seriously guys, do you really think you’re going to want SWAG tattooed on your chest when you’re 30? And ladies, you may dig One Direction now…but in 5 years, you really will have moved on from Harry Styles.  I know it may seem cool now, but taking a few days to really think about something you cannot undo is wisdom.

Young ladies….There are ways to try out different clothing styles within the boundaries of modesty. You can be develop your personal style and fashion and still be modest. You do not need to wear a see through top and a skirt that barely covers your butt to be fashionable. All that look will do is make you a target for negative attention from the types you don’t want attention from. Not to mention that it tempts the decent guys out there, and they’ve got enough to deal with…just like you.

Young men….Modesty isn’t as big of an issue for y’all as it is for the ladies, but dressing appropriate still applies. There’s a link below that addresses you guys better than I could.  Please keep this in mind little brothers, people will not take you seriously with the dropped pants look. Please do yourself a favor and just pull your pants up.

All ladies….No matter what age or size you are it is difficult to take someone seriously with their boobs and/or butt hanging out. If your top has a low neckline wear a cami or a tank under it. Seriously. Even though I try to give people grace about what they wear, I have a hard not time thinking less of someone who dresses immodestly at work, church or at any business I shop at. If I’m having a hard time taking you seriously, you can be assured I’m not the only one. I don’t care what style you prefer to dress in, your style’s not the point. Your modesty is the point.

I’ll leave you with this… God made you beautiful ladies. Gentlemen, God also made you in His image.  Modesty is not about covering up what God made and hiding who you are. It’s about treating yourself with respect because you are worth respecting.

Again, modesty is not about hiding your body. Your body isn’t bad or wrong! Your body is beautiful! So beautiful in fact that the Holy Spirit has chosen to live there: I Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.”

Love Honors

“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:5

Love does not dishonor others.  The word for dishonor can also be translated unseemingly or unbecomingly. It refers to someone who does not regard the thoughts or feelings of others. It can refer to someone who doesn’t give a crap about anyone else’s thoughts or feelings they just do and say what they want. It includes how they talk to and how they treat others. It brings to mind users and abusers of any kind.

The only other time in the entire NT this word is used is I Corinthians 7:36 where Paul tells men to act honorably toward their fiancées. Telling them to marry them rather than to dishonor them. “But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin,”

If love doesn’t dishonor people it must honor people. Right? Right! What does honor mean? Honor means honesty, fairness, sincerity or integrity. Giving someone honor refers to showing them high respect or to giving a courteous regard for them. It’s doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing.

What does honor look like? Giving honor to people is simple because it’s just treating others respectfully and living with integrity. Holding doors open. Not interrupting. Not texting or taking phone calls when you’re at lunch with someone. It’s letting people out in front of you on the road. Honor is keeping your word and showing up on time. Honor is using your manners and saying please and thank you. It’s standing in respect and removing your hat for our National Anthem. It’s respecting your elders and thanking veterans for their service.

By giving honor and showing respect, you are in fact loving people. Simple Right?

Pastor Dino on Honor: http://vimeo.com/68003954

STP (Something to Ponder)…The first commandment from God with a promise attached is found in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your mother and your father, so that you may live long in the land the Lord God is giving you.” God linked a long life with honoring your parents.  Hmmmm.

 

Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers

unknown_sunriseA few years ago I went to Arlington National Cemetary.  One of the things that impacted me was the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknowns.  The respect shown by these young men for those who gave their lives anonymously is inspiring to me.  They guard the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  They do this no matter the weather, and have maintainted their post even during hurricanes and snow storms. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/VisitorInformation/ChangingofTheGuard.aspx?tb=2

I was thinking about respect and honor today as we head into Memorial Day Weekend.  Memorial Day is meant to be a day of mourning and rememberance to those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice. Take some time on Monday to remember our fallen service men and women.  Let’s also not forget the families who’ve lost a loved one in service to our country. Remember them in your prayers! To both those fallen and to those whose families were forever changed by their loss I say, “Thank you.”

PS:  Memorial Day (4th Monday in May) is not the same as Veterans Day. Veterans Day (November 11th) is meant to be a day of gratitude and respect to honor all those who’ve served honorably, whether in war or peace time. It is focused on the living veterans. Memorial Day’s focus is those who died in battle or by wounds sustained in battle. But any day of the year is a good day to thank a veteran for their service and honor those who never came home.

PSS:  Did you know that many countries have monuments and memorials to their unknown soldiers?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier

PSSS:  The above photo isn’t mine I found it on http://www.barefootsworld.net/unknownsoldier.html

PSSSS:  Here’s some additional info about the Tomb of the Unknowns: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/VisitorInformation/TombofUnknowns.aspx