Monday, July 31, 2006

I knew him when.........

When a person has the possibility of becoming famous people might say, "I knew him when..."


I knew him when he was but a few hours old.
I knew him when he was learning to walk, read, spell and add.
I knew him when he did not know how to even play the guitar.

Who did I know when? My brother, Ben!

Ben has matured so much the last year. He is an amazing guitarist. He has a beautiful voice. And he has a deep seeded passion for Jesus Christ. He has also taken steps to pursue his desire to make Jesus famous through music.

Ben has no desire to pursue music for the end goal of fame. He does not want to be rich or popular. He loves music. He loves Jesus. And the two go together very well.

Last October he began his journey by becoming the Lead Worshipper (he likes this instead of Worship Leader or Music Minister) at Canyon Ridge Baptist Church. I have had the honor of traveling with him to Fort Collins (an hour and a half away) to help with the church plant. I have watched him grow, mature and develop in his musical and leadership skills.

He has also been strengthening and training his voice through personalized vocal lessons with a well respected man in the music industry.

In March he went to a singer/ songwriter competition in New Jersey. He competed in both songwriting and vocal contests, where he was judged by his voice coach, others such as Ginny Owens and top record producers. Of the 100 competitors he won third place.

Since returning home from New Jersey his voice coach has told Ben that he has improved by 90%. And I agree. There is a deeper, more smooth sound to Ben's singning. In just three months he has developed to the point where he probably would have won. Maybe next year.

In June Ben had the opportunity to lead 1,500 people at the Colorado Home Educators of Colorado Conference. It was the largest crowd, so far, that he has guided in worship. He looked so comfortable, so natural and so free.

Since Ben works at the Lifeway Christian Store he was asked to be staff for a conference in Estes Park this week. You might have heard of it; It is called Music in the Rockies. There are workshops and conferences but the main attraction is the competitions. The top producers, songwriters and vocal coaches in the nation gather to encourage the musical hopefuls. Some people that have been "discovered" at Music in the Rockies are Point of Grace, Rachel Lampa and Chris Tomlin.

So, since Ben is working with Lifeway at the conference, he has a pass to all the concerts and workshops. He will get a glimpse into the real competition and judge how he rates, in his mind, although he will not be competing this year. He will know what to do and what not to do next year.

Yesterday at Music in the Rockies he met with his vocal coach (Dr. Scott) and some people from the conference in New Jersey. They are hoping to start a similar competion in Colorado as in New Jersey. Since he is Dr. Scott's pet he was included in the planning meeting.

Sunday night my mom and I went to Estes Park for the Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Louie Giglio night. As silly as it sounds, when I watched Chris Tomlin I saw my own brother, Ben. Tomlin talked about the first time he was in Estes Park as a musical hopeful. He challenged the people to not seek fame but to seek Jesus.

I cannot wait to see what God has planned for Ben's life. I am honored to be his sister and to watch first hand his journey. Hey, maybe one day he will be on stage in front of large crowds. That is definately not the goal... but it is fun to think about.

And I can say,"I knew him when...."

Jaclyn's Heart Right Now

Do you ever have times when you feel like crying, laughing, singing and screaming all at the same time? Do you ever feel that God has made Himself so obvious to you and all of your emotions clash in one big bang? If not, then I stand alone. My guess is, though, that you know exactly what I am talking about. If I may, I am going to lay aside all attempts at a formatted, grammatically perfect or sensational post. I am going to talk to you from my heart.

I am in love.

Do you realize that I have a personal relationship with the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE?

If you did not get chills, then may I say it this way...

YOU can have a relationship with the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE.

Chills yet?

God loves me. Stop. This about that: God loves me. GOD loves me. God LOVES me. God loves ME!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Motherhood Training 101

I desire someday to, Lord willing, be the mother of a houseful of children. Therefore, I am always looking for opportunities to learn more about the care, responsibility and discipline of raising Godly men and women. Being the oldest of five children I get many hands-on experience with children that I know will greatly benefit me when I am a mother. (People wonder why I did not go away to college... and this is one reason!)

Yesterday Ben and I met our family at a park where they were having a picnic with some people from their church. After we ate the discussion turned to a serious conversation. It was important for my parents to listen to what the people were saying, so when Samuel walked into the gazebo looking distraught I knew I could help them by tending to his needs.

I motioned to Sam and whispered, "What do you need, sweetie?"

He earnestly replied, "I went gross in my pants."

We are in the midst of potty training him so sometimes when he says this he means he NEEDS to go and other times it really means he HAS gone already. So I checked his pants and found that, indeed, he had ALREADY gone "gross" in his pants. It was not solid, but diarrhea. (We have been eating a lot of grapes and cherries, so what can I say? :-P Sorry to be so descriptive!)

I was presented with three problems: First, he was in a training diaper and so his legs would be covered if I tried to pull the pants down, cleaning him up from there. Second, did we have a diaper bag with us? Third, there was only a portable restroom available to me.

The diaper bag WAS in the car, the first success! I laid Samuel out on the grass and pulled his pants down. Now, how to get the diaper off without making a ROYAL mess of him (and me, for that matter!) Wait, these training diapers are supposed to tear away for JUST these occassions, aren't they? I grabbed the side of the diaper and pulled. It would not tear. I tried closer to the front. I tried further back. No luck.

If only I had some scissors then I could just cut them away! I do have fingernail clippers, though... so I told Samuel to stay put and I ran to the car for my purse. I got them and went back to Sam, who was waiting patiently for me. He is such a good boy! I started clipping away at the sides of the diaper so that it would pull down like a regular one.

I dug in the diaper bags for the wipes, hoping that there WERE some in there. There were, but they were dry to the bone. Telling Sam to stay put I rushed to the picnic table to get my water bottle. I cleaned him up and fitted him with a new diaper.

The job was complete.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Yesterday: A Snapshot Look into My World

Monday, July 17, 2006

7:28AM- I awoke groggy, grumpy and tired. I had been up late playing a new game we are addicted to thanks to Scott. I drug myself to the shower, one eyes closed and one eye opened, hoping that Oliva and Maxi were done with the bathroom. They were still asleep.

FYI snip: Who are Olivia and Maxi, you ask? They are summer missionaries to Colorado through the North American Mission Board who are working with my parents at their new church in Broomfield. They are staying at our house this week.

7:47AM- Out of shower and downstairs for breakfast. Everyone was awake and either talking, laughing, screaming, arguing or whining. Our house is seldom quiet and yesterday was no exception. I ate breakfast, still grumpy, and got ready for work.

8:51AM- Leaving for work. I only live 7 minutes from door to door and so I WAS leaving on time! I listened to the Shane and Shane CD Carry Away and was deeply convicted for my morning attitude. I asked God to help me get through the day. (I had no idea what was ahead...)

8:59AM-5:16PM- At work, working mostly, but feeling a sense of tiredness and a weak spirit as the the afternoon drug on. Katie is out of town, thus the reason I am working full-time, and I desperately missed her company. I was not made to work in an office for eight hours a day, five days a week. (I work Monday-Thursday 9AM-1PM, and awesome schedule!) The weeks that I work extra I notice a progressingly more sour attitude in myself that I hate.

5:26PM- Arrive home. Dad beckons me upstairs where he is frantically cleaning the boys' bedroom. (An impossible task, I might add.) He tells me that my uncle Dan, his "significant other" Carleen and her daughters Rachel and Courtney were coming into town from Cheyenne tonight.

FYI Snip: Carleen was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago. She was scheduled at that time for emergency surjury here in Denver. My mom immediately called and offered that they could stay with us this week. That was before she realized Maxi and Olivia would be at our house too! But, my uncle is not a believer and we have been praying for many years that God would give us a tangible opportunity to show him Christ's love. He has been resistant to spiritual conversation and mocks Christianity. Carleen, though, is a believer, which surprised us all when they began "seeing" eachother (haha, read previous post) a few years ago. When Carleen called yesterday and said they would stay with us my mom almost fell over, both with joy and shock! The opportunity had now come.

Honestly, I did not feel like helping get things ready for more guests. I felt the grouch monster easing its way back in and I felt like crying. Everyone was being annoying, loud and uncooperative. Truly, they were no different than usual but I was the one being the bear. I went about my duties robotically and without a smile.

5:27-7:11PM- All of us were frantically cleaning the house, getting dinner ready and moving Maxi and Oliva out of my bedroom so Carleen could sleep there. But where would we all sleep? The boys were being kicked out of their room for Uncle Dan, Jaclyn was already out of her room for the missionaries, now the missionaries were roomless and Victoria and Samuel needed to evacuate for Rachel and Courtney. The basement could comfortably house four and we could set up the tent in the backyard? No, tent was burried under the garage sale junk from two weeks ago.

Then I have a grand idea: Katie is out of town and I have the spare key to her apartment! I called Katie with the urgent request. She called me back an hour later saying the person housesitting for her was willing to leave early and we were most certainly welcome to use her place. Maxi, Olivia and I packed our bags!

7:12-10:07PM- We finished dinner, cleaned the kitchen and played a game of Settlers of Catan. Dan and friends were not set to arrive until 10:30PM. Maxi, Olivia and I loaded up and headed out to Katie's house. The car ride was unusually quiet. I knew exactly why I was not talking.

I was grieving. I was grieving because the Spirit of God was grieving inside of me. He was prodding around in my soul and He was hitting tender cords. Selfishness. Pride. Weariness. Unbelief. Disobedience. And it hurt. It hurt because I knew I had not been acting like Christ. It hurt because of all the times I should be joyfully obeying (in hopes that my uncle would come to know Christ through this trial and our hospitality) I was being miserable inside and out. It hurt.

I silently confessed my sins to the Lord and felt the burden released. I asked Him to use my sinfulness for His glory by making me more like Jesus. More like Jesus. More like Jesus!!! That is what I want and yet time after time I act like a slave to sin. It is for freedom that Christ has set me free. I am commanded to live as a free man who is a slave to Christ willingly and passionately. He, my Savior, GOD- who became the most unimaginable servant to me:

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (from Philippians 2)

And so who am I to say I am tired? Who am I to complain about the annoyances of others? Who am I to grumble? What reason do I have for self-pity, arrogance, selfishness or frustration? None.

Praise be to God Who uses my weaknesses for His purpose. Praise be to God for His forgiveness when I am stupid. Praise be to God who remembers that I am dust! Praise be to God who calls me holy and blameless because of His Son. It is at these times that I am reminded why I need a Savior. I need a Savior because I sin. I need a Savior because I am unloveable on my own. I need a Savior because there is no good in me without Him. I need a Savior so that I can boast in Him.

Thank You, Spirit, for Your marvelous work in me. I could not walk through this life without You. Please, please, please... make me more like Jesus for I cannot do it on my own.

Please pray for Carleen, Dan, Courtney and Rachel today. Carleen is in surjury right now (11:30AM Mountain Time) and should be done any minute. Pray the God would give sight to the spiritually blind Dan, Rachel and Courtney through the trials they are experiencing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Love is in the air...

If "love is in the air" then what am I breathing???

Rachel and Mike have been married for a week. Hanna and Alan have been married for two days. My cousin gets married in August. Everyone I talk to knows at least a handful of people getting married.

As a single woman with weddings galore I get the usual questions like:

"So, Jaclyn, are you seeing anyone?" (A dumb question when you think about it logically, since I have sight and am usually with them when they ask!)

I try my best to answer their intended question and not the one they really stated, "No, I do not have a man in my life that is pursuing me with the intentions of marriage."

That response usually takes people by surprise because who in their mid-twenties these days is thinking THAT seriously about marriage? Isn't this the time to "find yourself," have fun before you "settle down," "explore" what you want in a marriage partner and establish yourself? I don't think so, but many who ask the questions do!

Therefore, since I am a girl who is boy-less, in the romantic sense, everyone seems to take it upon themselves to "find this poor lonely girl a boy that will make her happy." Most of the options they present makes me want to laugh, not because the young men are not respectable, but because they are not men who meet my standards.

"You'll never get married with your high standards, Jaclyn," those who are filled with unbelief mock. Well, I choose to believe that God will answer all of my prayers because my standards flow from a heart that has a desire to honor Christ. Furthermore, the longer I live and grow in my relationship with Jesus the more intense my standards become. "Don't be so hard on the boys, they are just boys, you know. They will grow up." And for the record: I don't want to marry a man who is still a boy.

Finally, there is a third group of people, not the matchmakers or disbelievers, but those who think I am already married. To whom, you ask? Well, you see, Ben and I go everywhere together. We sit next to eachother, talk kindly, discuss details, giggle, whisper, argue and disagree. I compliment Ben on a job well done; He opens doors for me. Ben is looking more and more mature for his age and I guess I am looking younger and younger for mine.

People ask us all the time, "So, how did you guys meet?"

Ben, as Ben would, loves to have fun with this question. He drags out a long story about how he was in the hospital one day. The first time he laid eyes on me he knew I was the woman of his dreams. And then... the doctor placed me in her arms. It was his "birth" day. People are either rolling on the floor in laughter or extremely confused.

My mom has always affectionately called Ben "Dick Van Dyke." If you know Ben even a little you will agree that it fits him perfectly. As a pair we COULD be called the Lone Ranger and Toto, Batman and Robin or Frodo and Sam. But, noooo....

We are either:
1- Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) Petrie from the Dick Van Dyke Show (pictured above). Rob is comical, mischievous, tall, lanky, has silly facial expressions, goofy, serious when needs to be and tender. Laura is sensible, too serious sometimes, proper and laughs when she needs to!


2- Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables. Matthew and Marilla are an old bachelor and maid brother sister pair who never married. They lived together forever, adopted a firey red-headed orphan named Anne and died happy.

You take your pick at what YOU want to call us, we have a special place in our hearts for both!

So, with weddings all around I take extra time to pray. I pray for my friends who are entering a sacred union. I pray for my parents in their marriage. I pray for my siblings and the people they will marry. I pray that God would continue to fashion me into a woman of Christ-likeness that would compliment a man to the utmost of my abilities. I pray that my earthly Prince would find his satisfaction in and know Christ more intimately.

Overall I pray that God would keep me from believing the lie that marriage is fulfillment and the end goal of my life. It is neither. May it never be that I waste my life "waiting" around for romance or wallowing in self-pitying discontentment. Do not misunderstand me, I would love to marry someday and have a quiver full of children!

It is not my life now... and that's ok. God is life. And He is enough.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

TV Women, Wives and Mothers

Dawn has this quiz on her blog: Which TV Mom are You? So, as always, I thought I would give it a try. I am always up for a new quiz- especially when that quiz is going to tell me what I am going to be like when I grow up. Based on my personality, I think it is quite accurate:

June Cleaver
from Leave It to Beaver

You're a mom with a capital "M" -- and you dig it! Meeting your kids' needs is your number-one priority. You prefer the tried-and-true, old-fashioned parenting style that worked with you: Shower 'em with love! Trends don't concern you -- your mommy uniform is whatever's comfy. Sure, you try to keep up with what the crazy kids are doing these days -- but when a teenager says "Eminem" you think "Peanut or plain?" The Bottom Line: Your parenting style is based on nurturing, family togetherness, apple pie -- and lots of hugs.

EVERY single quiz I take seems to include the words: old-fashioned, traditional or family. Guess what? That's me! Now why do I take quizzes to tell me what I already know? :-P

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pending Pictures

A couple of weeks ago Katie (far left) came to church with Ben and I in Fort Collins. We went swimming with Hannah (far right) then played pool and air hockey. I have another picture to post of the pool game, but here is one from dinner at Beau Joe's Pizza.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Girls
I know that the post about the interview was very long so I thought that I would post some pictures for those who won't read the interview! I will post more pictures from Chicago when I get the time! These three pictures are from the airplane journey on the way to Chicago.

The BoysGrandma, me and Victoria

An Interview

Only a few months after I started blogging, which has been over a year now, I found a wonderful blog called The Hidden Fountain. There in cyberspace I "met" the author behind the posts who goes by the name Galant. I have faithfully read his thoughts as he shares what God is teaching him, where he is struggling and how he is growing. Although he is a complete stranger to me I have been encouraged time and time again through what I have read. I would encourage you to read his blog when you get a chance for I am sure you will find there a hidden fountain of a life centered on Christ.

So, a few weeks ago Galant posted an invitation to his readers for an interview game. I thought, hey, why not? Then I saw what types of questions he was giving other people and I wondered what I had got myself into. These were not your normal "what do you like questions." They were deep and I was up for the challenge. I signed up.

Thank you, Galant, for the interview. It was a pleasure to answer the questions. It caused me to think about who I am and who I want to be in Christ.

Now I post the questions and my responses. I will warn you that this is the longest post in the history of the blogging world. Read through it- some of you might learn something new about me! (Bold= Galant's questions)

If I may I'm going to throw 6 at you. Let me know if you feel any of these are inappropriate.

1 – You’re a reader, and a writer. Your heart lies firmly surrounded by friends and family but foremost before the throne of the Lord. The love fostered there now spills out through the Spirit to the other people you meet and you desire to reach out to those around the world. These things I believe I know about you, but, since I don’t know all the details of your life, the little things that make up your world – if you’ll allow me the liberty, I’d like to pull you out from that world of yours right now and place you into another. Let’s say it’s completely unfamiliar territory.Describe the setting. Who might someone there learn Jaclyn to be? How might you be? How might you feel? Also, feeling free to bring them in on this one, how might your friends/family describe you in these circumstances? If at all, how do you think you would differ or surprise them?

Since I am having a hard time dreaming up a new setting, I will just use a general circumstance I have experienced before as a springboard for sharing who I am and how I might act in an unfamiliar environment.

I am in a foreign country. It really does not matter where or with whom, but everything around me is strange. There I encounter strange food, a strange language and strange people. More than likely my brother, Ben, is there with me. You see, he is one of my best friends, and so we do everything together. We are a pair, a team and love being together. I keep him serious when he needs to be and he reminds me to have fun! You name a memory and it will probably involve both of us.

I am an observer. The first few moments in a new place I do a lot of surveying. I may be quiet because I am listening and watching everything. Some take my initial quietness to mean I am shy, but this is definitely not the case. The more comfortable I am in a place the more talkative, open and playful I become. I am always eager to meet new people, often introducing myself before being introduced. (I am sure that comes from being the daughter of a pastor!) In a new setting I feel excited, curious and expectant. Oh… and more than not I carry my camera with me to catch those “Kodak” moments.

I love to smile at people. That may sound funny, and I really did not think about it until writing out my answer, but it is so true of me. I want my joy and love for Christ to be communicated and so I see smiling as a small way of displaying that joy. I also try my best to give people full eye contact- which was a struggle for me when I was first challenged in my teen years by my mom to practice looking people in the eye. Now, though, I love looking people in the eye, for you can learn much about a person from their eyes.

I am an introvert. Although I love being with people they drain me after a while. I am not an introvert in the definition of “shy, withdrawn and quiet.” I am an introvert in the sense that after long periods of time with people I feel emotionally, physically, socially and mentally wiped out. I need time alone to refocus and get my energy back! When I do not get time alone with God you can tell because I easily become impatient, irritable and frustrated.

I love to eat new food. If I am served something, I eat it without reservation- at least once. I will always try something. When in a foreign country I know that what I am being served probably cost someone a great deal. Even if I am full or the food is disgusting I will eat. I see food as a connecting point of conversation in every culture. Food can be used to bridge gaps between people that may eventually lead to a conversation about spiritual things.

I am not a morning person. I love the morning air, sunshine and sunrises, but my body does not wake up quickly. I am fairly quiet in the morning, wanting to get my tasks done and press through until afternoon when I become alive. When in an unfamiliar place, though, I tend to be more alert and ready to experience new things because I do not want to miss something! My best hours are after 4PM. I feel so alive and ready to face the world’s problems!

I love asking people questions. My mom has told me that since I was young I have asked questions about everything. I love to learn, analyze problems, discuss theology, find out strange things about people, learn new languages and hear testimonies. When I am in an unfamiliar place I ask even more questions.

I love children. I have been affectionately titled by a close friend a “child magnet.” I seem to connect with children. If there are children in the room I tend to gravitate towards them. Don’t get me wrong, I love adults and adult conversation, but children are so special to me. I do not mind blowing bubbles, crawling on the floor, soothing a crying baby, playing silly games or even changing diapers. Children teach and remind me so much of what I need to be. They are incredibly formidable so I take encounters with children as an opportunity to show them as much as they can understand, at their respective age, about Jesus.

Poor leadership irritates me. In an unfamiliar place, specifically in a church setting, when the designated leader is not leading adequately (by my standards) I can get impatient and frustrated. I know that some of this comes from my sinful, perfectionist tendencies and the other part from being raised as a pastors’ daughter. Many people say that leadership oozes from our family, but I know that unless it is bridled it can cause me to become prideful. I have to work hard to curb the feelings in my flesh and remember that God is the ultimate leader over all of man’s faults. Besides, I am not perfect and in my areas of leadership I do not lead perfectly. God has taught me a lot about following Him and giving grace to those who fail as He has given grace to me. I try to be a mode of positive influence with leaders that would otherwise irritate me, doing what I can to help them lead to the best of their ability. Also, having the spiritual gift of teaching, I can get irritated with lack of teaching skills. When a teacher is misquoting Scripture or not thoroughly explaining a concept I get fidgety and mentally evaluate what I would do differently. I have a tendency to criticize sermons or lectures. God is always quick to remind me to use my gift where I can (like with children) and to remember I do not know everything.

Now, if my family was with me in the foreign country, I know that they would be able to see through any fakeness that I would have. The wonderful thing about family, or at least mine, is that they know you inside and out. They know how I act when I am tired, upset, impatient, joyful and passionate. And they still love me.

At home with my family they see all the good, bad and ugly. They know I love good table manners (and correct ill ones). They know it bothers me when messes are left all over. They know I cry easily while watching chick flicks. They know that when I say I am going to bed, I am really just retreating to read.

Recently, I have surprised my family in unfamiliar settings by being more comical. I give full credit for my humor to Ben! He has taught me everything I know about being funny. Hahaha. Anyway… I am not sure what else to say about this question! I hope I answered it they way you wanted!

2 – You love missions. Which well-known, missionary/Christian figure do you most closely compare yourself or aspire to and why?

Ahhh, such a tough question if I am forced to only choose one! :-) For missionaries, two people immediately came to mind when I read this question: Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor; another Christian figure I see as a role model is Sarah Edwards. Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor were so passionate about making Christ known to the nations that I long to be like them in their levels of dedication and sacrifice. They so believed that God was better than anything and they spent their lives sharing the message of Jesus with the world. I admire Sarah Edwards (wife of Jonathan Edwards) for her personality as a wife, mother of many children and her love for our Savior. She was an example of Biblical womanhood to the depth of the description! The impact of her life, from general acquaintances to the legacy of their children, spreads far and wide.

3 – Family and marriage are two big things that are talked about, admired and exalted in Christian circles throughout the world. There are conferences, ministries and more books than anyone would care to count. However, a life of undivided devotion without marriage, though spoken of by both Christ and Paul, often seems little spoken of or understood in churches. How would you defend and describe that call to those who might not understand it?

A life of undivided devotion without marriage is a wonderful calling. Those that are called to remain single for their entire life need to be encouraged and respected for their willingness to follow God in what He has asked them to do.

By definition, Biblical celibacy is when a person is completely content and fulfilled by not being married, using their life in complete devotion to further the kingdom of God. Committing to life-long singleness is NOT a result of failure in romantic relationships like, “I asked 10 girls and they all said no so I must be called to singleness.” A person that is called to singleness never has a serious desire to be married, at all, ever. They may doubt the calling or feel pressure from others, but there is not an overwhelming desire to marry.

Celibacy needs to be taken seriously, by both those who feel called to it and their supporters, as something that is used to deliberately serve God. People need to understand that celibacy is not just an escape from marital responsibilities. God designed the gift of singleness with the purpose of having followers who are undyingly devoted to serving Him. The gift of celibacy is not a gift that operates independent of a life committed to ministry. Really, there is no other purpose for celibacy than that. God loves marriage and wants to see people united together to serve Him. Yet, there are things that a married couple with children cannot do to serve Him because of the variety of responsibilities they carry.

I get concerned when I meet people who claim they have been called to be single but they have dated off and on and are not pursuing service to God in any fashion. They are big kids, pursuing money and popularity, not wanting to “settle down” so claiming that maybe they have the gift. They end up wasting their lives on temporary things, being discontent and running from God. This is not “the gift.”

When celibacy is used the way God designed it to be it becomes one of the most powerful influences in the world. A person that is so passionately in love with God and has a desire only for ministry will change the world. Their eyes are so fixed on Christ and making Him known to people that every amount of their energy, time and money is funneled to serving God since they are not worried with the cares of marriage and family. Many history changing Christians have been people called to be single. They poured their whole lives into serving God and we benefit from their sacrifices!

Finally, it is important to remember that we are ALL single for some period of our life. God has given each of us a time in life to use for undivided devotion without marriage to serve Him. If we waste that time searching for “true love,” being discontent and impatient or pursuing childish things, we are squandering so many opportunities. We have set callings in life: called to be an earthly son/ daughter, called as a child of God, called to be a husband/wife and called home to heaven. The calling of marriage, for a believer, is the only “optional” calling since God does not have all of us marry.

Although I do not feel the call to life-long singleness as a gift, I am not married now, so I need to fulfill the role that God has for me as a single woman to the UMOST of my abilities and gifts. I have NO guarantee that I will ever be married so I do not want to throw away time, energy and money at the prime of my life chasing what will not last. The only thing that lasts in this world is things that are done in the name of Christ.

4 – In bringing up this interview game, you have made mention of propriety in dealing with this whole thing. Such a thing isn’t too common but was a pleasant surprise. If you don’t mind I’m going to take the liberty of running with that subject and bring up the context of guy/girl behaviour. Give three things you hold in high regard when it comes to relating to the opposite sex. What two things do you think guys should be most careful of in relating to girls, and then what two things should girls most be careful of? Finally, what one thing has been the most useful tool for you in balancing your own behaviour in this regard?

Before I dive into this question I want to say that much of how I answer comes from either my idealistic dreams or from lessons I have learned through my own failures. I know that we, as people, all fall short of perfection, thus the reason we needed a Savior in Jesus Christ. I have not met a man or woman who has perfectly accomplished the standards I present. I am honored, though, to walk side by side many godly men and women who are pursuing these characteristics wholeheartedly. I do not claim expertise (for I have lived only a short while myself!) but am answering out of a soul that desires to be like Jesus Christ in all I am.

When relating to men I deeply respect these three things:

1- Visible evidence that he is pursuing a vibrant relationship with God and striving for personal holiness. I greatly admire a man who is willing to share what God is teaching him as well as being vulnerable about his weaknesses and what he is doing to overcome them.

2- I also respect confident leadership in a man. When I see a pastor, husband, father or single man taking leadership in his realm of jurisdiction (where he has authority) it encourages me to be the submissive helpmeet that God created me to be as a woman. When I say confidence I picture a man who knows what he believes and is not afraid to lead others in that way. He has a sense of surety but is not arrogant. He has a teachable spirit and is willing to change course when presented with varying ideas but he is not indecisive. There are several men who lead this way in my life, with their families and churches, and I respect them very much. This type of man makes you want to follow him because he has proved himself to be an honorable man worthy of the role of leader.

3- I hold in high regard relating to a man who has gentle strength. He has the physical strength to fire a gun, cut down trees, change a tire, shovel snow or move furniture. He as the mental strength to resist temptation, think clearly in an emergency, comprehend deep things of God, teach his children to walk in righteousness and is always ready to give an answer for the hope he has in Christ. He has the emotional strength to show his weaknesses, cry when he is sad, be stable when others (especially his wife) are not, throw his burdens on Christ when he is weary, rejoice with those who are rejoicing and mourn when others mourn. He has social strength to be a masculine man in a feminized society, stand alone in a crowd, live a life of simplicity (in a world of materialism), avoid music, movies or media that dishonors Christ, love his wife as Christ loved the church and raise children who are sharp arrows in his full quiver.

In all of these areas of strength he is gentle. He can hold his wife when she cries, cuddle a newborn baby, correct a disobedient child in love, wipe the tears of a new widow and be a father to the fatherless. He is a mighty horse as he carries a warrior to battle and a playful pony when he trots a child around the yard.

Two things guys should be most careful of in relating to girls:

1- When relating to a girl, whether in general friendship or romantic pursuit, young men (specifically single) must remember to act, speak and regard her as he would his own sister. (1 Timothy 5:1-2) He should be careful to not put her at risk emotionally, spiritually, physically or socially. He should seek to protect the women in his life from dangers that would harm her in these areas, in his personal interaction with her and from outside sources. Protection on this scale is a daunting task but must be recovered if we are to see men of valor and women of sobriety.

2- A guy also needs to be careful to not interact with a young woman with underlying tones of manipulation. Girls are easily persuaded by affection, emotions and compliments. Just as she must learn to recognize and resist manipulation in a man, he must be aware of the games he is capable of playing in order to shirk responsibility. On the other hand, when relating with girls, the man must also be careful to not fall into the traps of female manipulating strategies. Instead, he must rise above the temptation to let girls be relational or spiritual leaders as well as guard himself against women of ill-repute.

Two things girls should be most careful of in relating to guys:

1- Girls must take care to act with sobriety when relating to men. (Titus 2:5- “Discreet”) The root word of sobriety, obviously, is “sober” and means to have a sound mind, be sane, constant in one's senses, curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled and temperate. Godly sobriety goes far beyond the general view of being sober in regards to alcohol for it invades every aspect of a woman’s life. A Christ-honoring, sober young woman will behave in such a way that first, honors Christ, and second, guards her spiritual brothers. Temperance, discretion and sobriety encompass things such as clothing, speech, actions and possessions. A sober girl will be careful in how she dresses, always showing discretion and honoring the men in her life with modest attire. She is sober in speech by not being loud, crude or drawing unwanted attention to herself with obnoxious chatter. Her actions reflect sobriety through gentleness, strong convictions and feminine behavior. Finally, a sober girl will have self-control when acquiring materials and will not be excessive in gathering things she does not need. A girl who is deliberate about being sober will relate to young men with purity, allowing the men to be men and delighting in who she is as a woman.

2- It is important for a girl to protect her emotions when relating to guys. She cannot allow herself to be vulnerable emotionally with men who have not been proven to be respectable and godly. She must learn the boundaries of sharing information with young men, especially in private conversation, and understand what is appropriate in the levels of friendship, courtship and marriage. Girls must be careful to guard their minds, hearts and emotions by always keeping confidence with their mother or an older godly woman who can give wise counsel. As young men approach her either in friendship or romance she must show wisdom and self-control in the emotion she displays. She must see her father as the source of protection, authority and emotional stability until the day he transfers that responsibility the young man she marries.

Finally, the one thing that has been the most useful tool for me in balancing my own behavior with young men (or all men) is to constantly remember to view younger men (single/around my own age and younger) as brothers and older men (significantly older or married men) as fathers. (1Timothy 5:1-2) Having a brother only a few years younger than me has undoubtedly helped keep my behavior with young men in check. I continually evaluate my interaction with Ben as a standard for how I should treat guy friends. My public relationship with Ben also guards me from unwanted attention or affection from single men for they see that my interaction with them is no different than how I relate to my own brother. When I treat single young men as brothers it gives me freedom to be myself, guarantees purity and promotes an environment for genuine friendship to happen.

5 – You mention you’re an avid reader, if you could have every person on the planet read one book that is not a specifically Christian book (or the Bible) what would it be and why?

This is a difficult question for me. If I knew every person on the planet would read the book I recommended I would want the book, somehow, to present the gospel. The first book that comes to mind is called, The Question of God by Armand M. Nicholi Jr. Although it is not a specifically Christian book, it discusses the philosophical dichotomy between C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. I have two concerns: first, I have not YET read this book, and second, I would fear that some would walk away agreeing with Mr. Freud. For that I would need to trust God would use the information presented in the book to glorify Himself in the lives of those whose hearts were open to Him. (This book is sitting on my bookshelf apart of the “to read soon” list.)

6 – If you could ask me one question in return, what would it be?

From your writings, I have learned that you are a man of integrity, character and honor. You seek to know God and please Him in all you do. In many of your posts and in a question you presented to me you discuss the aspect of life-long singleness. From my reply to question number three you see that I understand the “calling” that some have to not marry.

Yet, there are those who are single, having the desire to someday be married, who seem to delay pursuing marriage as a way to somehow extend childhood. Through general observations and even some friends, I see that many young men in particular, do not want to make the step towards marriage. They are passing from one girl to another, buying big boy toys and spending a vast majority of their money on entertainment. They say things such as, “I am not ready to settle down” or “I am not mature enough for marriage.”

From a single man’s perspective, why would you say that young men have a difficult time entering the commitment of marriage and putting boyish things behind? What has the generation before ours done wrong that has raised boys to be boys instead of boys to be men? Why do men these days find manhood so difficult? What can women do to encourage men to be men?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

When Two Worlds Collide

Last Wednesday my world, worldview, religion and location collided with a man who had differing opinions than I. It was a beautiful collision.

Ben and I left Chicago a few days earlier than the rest of the family since we had to work. So, my aunt scheduled her IBM corporate taxi/limo service to transport us to the airport. They did not send a stretch limo, I am sorry to say, but another kind of fancy car like the one in the picture above.

Before our driver even introduced himself you knew he was not American. He looked Middle Eastern and had a fairly thick accent. His English was perfect as he opened our doors and welcomed us into the car. We chatted about small things for several miles until I decided to dig deeper.

"Bobo, what is your family heritage?" I questioned, "Where are you from?"
"Pakistan," he cautiously replied and then added, "Land of the Terrorists, you know?"
I smiled at him the in rearview mirror, "I am sure the country is beautiful and the people are wonderful."

Spiritually speaking, you could hear and see the cultural walls come crashing down. He began to talk and talk and talk. He tlked about his family. He told us about his life in Pakistan. He answered all of our curiousity about his first opinion of America.

Then I spoke the name of Jesus. He began talking about Muslims, Jews and Christians. He shared who Muslims really are and that they are just like Christians. Ben and I sat there, not agreeing with everything he was saying obviously, but soaking in all he was sharing. I pulled out the memo pad that I carry in my purse (just for these occasions) and began to take notes. They read:

*Very angry with Jews.
*Thinks Jews control the world. Christians and Muslims need to unite against Jews.
*Evil spirit from Cain cast into pigs- reason Muslims do not eat pigs. (Biblically there was no evil spirit from Cain cast into pigs)
*Adam was a god. (Not Biblical)
*Only three religions in the world and we all come from the same root: Jews, Muslims and Christians. Abraham is the father of all of us. The rest are pagans.
*They celebrate a holiday of when Abraham was asked to kill Ishmael and passed the test. (Not Biblical)
*Jesus spoke to Mary on the day he was born telling her that He was the Messiah. (Not Biblical)

These were just some of the notes that I took while he was talking. It was amazing to see how angry he was when he spoke of Jews. He was quite emphatic that Jews control the world. Most of the stories he shared with us from the Koran, that he said were the same as the Bible, were nothing like what the Bible says.

We were able to communicate soooo much about Jesus. As a team, Ben and I shared what God has shown us (using "shown" or "revealed" with Muslims is key for they rely on signs and visions.) through the Bible and in our life. It was amazing to listen to him talk. I have never been in a conversation with a Muslim for that long where they opened so much and answered so many questions.

If you think about it, please pray for Bobo. Pray that God will reveal Himself to him as the only way to heaven. He knows so much, but so much is blocking his heart to believing in the one true God. The conversation reminded me that I need to know more about Muslims than I do. I need to find Muslims to talk to and learn from. I also need to read the book on my shelf called: Healing the Broken Family of Abraham by Don McCurry. When I do, I'll be sure to post a book review!

Bitter Sweet Surrender

song of surrender
by shane barnard

there is a wicked man in me
wanting the wicked man's disease
fleeting pleasures, but pleasure indeed
oh Lord, take my envy of these things
and the prideful war within
take me to the place of sweet surrender

You are, You were, You will always be better!
this is a song of surrender
for whom have i but You?
You are, You are better
forever so much better than the world

You are my portion (Lord you are...)
You are my portion (my reward...)
You are my portion
my never ending, overflowing Lord
my reward
my reward
my portion, Lord!

You are Lord...creator of created things
greatest personality
no ear has heard, no mind conceived
and though Your Spirit groans in me
and all creation sings of Your return
my feet are slipping, be my help

You are, You were, You will always be better!

(From Psalm 73)

Almighty God. Wonderful Counselor. Redeemer. Friend. Savior. Guide. Comforter. Creator. Provider. Faithful One. Purity. Goodness. Love Itself.
He will always be better.
Money. He will always be better.
Friends. He will always be better.
Family. He will always be better.
Food. He will always be better.
Better than good weather, nice houses, sucessful jobs, college degrees, good children, romanitic relationships, long life, safety, comfort, cleanliness, academics, sports, shoes, jewelry, cars, land, movies, music, travel, paper, plastic, terrorists, priests, saint, presidents...
...whatever you name (besides Him) He will always be better.
How long will it take for that simple fact to resonate through all that I am? Why do I trade Him for so much less? Why do I grasp at all that humanity has to offer as if it will satisfy?
It won't. It can't. It shouldn't.
The greatest tragedy of all times is a person who has seen the mercy and grace of God then seeks after temorary pleasures. This person takes God's salvation as a gift and shoves it in the closet of life to be used when needed.
God is not an addition to my life. He IS life. He is not just another relationship to use and abuse- He IS the ultimate relationship. God is not a hobby. He is not apart of my collection. He IS everything.
Because He will always be better. Better...