Book Review: Growing Up Duggar

DGrowing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships  is a book written by the four oldest girls of the Duggar family (from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting) Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger.  The book is divided into sections that deal with all different types of relationships. Relationship with self, relationships with parents, siblings, friends, boys, culture, and the world.  Relationship with God permeates the whole book and provides foundation for much of their values, convictions, and beliefs.  The girls wrote this book to reach out to and help other young girls with relationships and navigating life as a Christian in this world.  Throughout the book they share with their readers the wisdom of their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.  They also tell many stories about what it’s like growing up in such a large family.

I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed reading this book.  I am going to be honest and say that up until a friend asked me to read it I knew very little about the Duggars, and assumed they were crazy.  However, after reading Growing Up Duggar I have a new opinion.  This is a family who is totally focused on glorifying God and sharing His love with the world.  I have a lot of respect for them and their willingness to put themselves before others in order to share the gospel.  I also respect them for unashamedly following their convictions about what the Bible says is glorifying to God.  However, while I agree with their convictions, I don’t necessarily agree with some of the ways they carry them out.  At times, while reading the book I felt judged, like if I was to meet them they would think, “This girl calls herself a Christian?! She sure doesn’t dress like one!” just because I would probably be wearing pants instead of a skirt.  I know that they most likely didn’t mean to come off as  judgmental, but that’s the feeling I got.  I guess what I’m saying is that in their lives and upbringing they seem to focus a lot on avoiding sin instead of living in the freedom of God’s grace.

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Do Something

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”  James 1:22

This verse has been coming up frequently in my life recently. Every once in a while a Bible verse or principle seems to follow me around.  It will come up in sermons, books I happen to be reading, and conversations. It seems like the Holy Spirit is making sure I will never forget it and what it means.  After a while it gets though my thick skull that maybe I should pay attention to what it is saying to me.

So right now, James 1:22 happens to be the verse I can’t shake off.  I find this verse (well really the whole book of James) very convicting.  I’ve been wondering, ‘Am I a doer? Or am I a hearer?’  I guess I know in my heart that I am, for the most part, a hearer.  But James makes me desperately want to be a doer.

Let me back up and explain; a hearer is a person who probably goes to church, learns about the Bible, and believes it.  The hearer puts their faith in God, but doesn’t let their faith change the way they live.  They are stuck living the way they always lived: for themselves.  Essentially, it is impossible for anyone to tell the difference between them and a non-Christian simply by their actions.

However, a doer is a person who learns the word and allows it to change them from the inside out.  The doer is a person who treats others as Jesus would have treated them.  They are a living example of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).  The doer lives for others, sharing their faith with everyone they come in contact with through their words and actions.  James expands his point in the rest of the chapter ending with these instructions in verse 27:

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27

Many people have taken this passage the wrong way and use it to promote a works- based gospel. This means they believe they NEED to do good things and follow the law in order to be saved.  This is what they believe a doer is, someone who follows the law and the commandments.  But we can never achieve salvation on our own.  The gulf of sin between us and God is too great.  Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.  Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Our sins need cleansing and no amount of tithing, feeding the poor, or honoring your father and mother can save you.

You are probably thinking, ‘If I don’t need good deeds for salvation, then why should I bother?’  To be honest, I have struggled with the same question for a long time.  What I have come to learn is, even though doing good things and obeying the law is not required for salvation, it is still necessary for living the spiritual life to the fullest.  Helping people and following God’s commands are expressions of our love for Him.  Through our actions we glorify Him and we show His love to others.

So go do something!  It doesn’t have to be a big something either! Often it’s the little things that add up to make someone a doer!

If you want to learn more about becoming a doer please read Love Does by Bob Goff.  It is an awesome read and really shows how becoming a doer of the word can change your whole life and make it more amazing!

“What we do in love will last; all the rest will blow by like it never even happened.” –Bob Goff

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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This time of year we sing and listen to many songs that are made just for this season. It always amazes me that despite the desire of many people to take Christ out of Christmas (even though it’s a celebration of His birthday!) we still sing the old Christmas hymns that glorify Him and His birth. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is one of those songs.  Often it’s sung at the end of holiday themed movies (It’s a Wonderful Life, anyone?)  If you’re like me then you have probably spent years singing along to this song without giving a second thought to its meaning.  Here I’m going to try to elaborate a little on them to show how meaningful they are. I’m not saying this is exactly what it means; this is simply my interpretation of the lyrics.

Hark the herald angels sing

“Glory to the newborn king

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled”

In the last line of this first stanza it says “God and sinners reconciled.”  This is one of the most meaningful lines in the song.  Jesus was born so He could eventually die as a sacrifice for our sins.  It is important to remember that as humans we are born in sin and we deserve punishment and death.  God cannot have anything to do with sin.  But, because of Jesus’ work on the cross we are saved and able to spend eternity in heaven with God.  So, Jesus acts as a bridge or a mediator between humans and God. Through Jesus we are reconciled.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Joyful all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With angelic host proclaim

“Christ is born in Bethlehem”

With angelic host proclaim

“Christ is born in Bethlehem”

This stanza reminds us to be joyful and join the angels in praise of God for sending His Son to be born as a baby and die for our sins.

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Again, this stanza reminds us of the purpose of Christ coming to earth.  “Born that man no more may die.” He was born so that we could spend eternity in heaven with Him.  “Born to raise the sons of earth/ Born to give them second birth.”  Refers to what we might call being ‘born-again’ after salvation.  At the moment of believing in Christ we are made into a new creation.

“Truly, Truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”  John 5:24

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus, our Immanuel

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus, our Immanuel

One line in this stanza says, “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see…” this reminds us that even though Jesus was fully human during His time on earth, He was also fully God.

Hail the Heaven born Prince of Peace

Hail the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n healing in His wings

I love the line that says, “Light and life to all He brings,” He is the Light, and He gives us life.

Christ the highest Heaven adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Come desire of nations come

Fix in us Thy humble home

Come desire of nations come

Fix in us Thy humble home

The previous three stanzas remind us that Christ is in fact, God.  He left His magnificent place in heaven with the Father to come down to our level in order to save us lowly humans. We are also reminded to praise Him for who He is and what He has done for us. It is so amazing to me that God would become one of us!  He must really love us a lot!  Can you even imagine having been in heaven for ever and having all the power in the universe, then simply giving it up and being born as a human?  Not only did He become human, but He was born and lived in the most humble circumstances.  The savior of the world was born in a stable to humble parents with almost no recognition at first.  It seems so crazy! To us it might make sense for the King of the universe to be born in a palace surrounded by magnificent and powerful people, but God never seems to do anything as we would expect Him to! The circumstances of His birth (Of which this song reminds us) are a glimpse of what His future ministry would look like, healing and helping the poor, needy sinners of the world.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

 

 

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

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In a few days we will celebrate the holiday that kicks off the Christmas season.  Over the years Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a day to relax and eat good food (I can’t wait for that pumpkin pie!), play games, and watch football, all with family and friends.  But I have also realized in recent years that Thanksgiving is a somewhat forgotten holiday.  It seems to me that its true meaning gets passed over and neglected.  Sometimes it feels like Thanksgiving is that one last stepping stone into the Christmas Season, and so we rush through it.

We talk often about the true meaning of Christmas and implore others not to forget, but nobody seems to be all that worried about the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  We talk about the pilgrims and their journey on the Mayflower, but do we really understand what they were celebrating on that First Thanksgiving?  They had come to the New World a year earlier with hopes of freedom to worship God as they chose and plenty of land to claim as their own.  But they didn’t anticipate the hardships they would have to endure.  They left Europe with 102 passengers, by the end of their first winter in Plymouth there were only 52 left; the others had died of diseases, starvation, and exposure.  If the local native people hadn’t seen their troubles and helped them they never would have survived an entire year.

So, on the First Thanksgiving they were celebrating BEING ALIVE.  They were grateful for the food they had been able to harvest and the shelters they were able to build.  They were thankful to be able to worship God freely.  They were not thinking about standing in line for hours to get a good deal on a TV the next day.  It seems funny to me that the biggest shopping day of the year occurs on the day after we are supposed to be thankful for what we already have.

We are commanded in the Bible many times to GIVE THANKS.  God wants us to be thankful and appreciate what we have been given.  Not just material things, but our lives, families, health, and most of all the salvation we receive from Jesus’ work on the cross.  I have found in my own life that when I make an effort to be thankful my attitude changes, I feel more content with what I have and it makes me want to share what I have been so graciously given.

And so I would like to challenge you this year to take a few minutes to reflect on what you have been given and truly thank God for it before the craziness of this Christmas season takes over.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good;

His lovingkindness is everlasting

And His faithfulness to all generations.”  -Psalm 100: 4-5

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”   -Colossians 3: 15-17

Women of Faith Wednesday: Mary Vs. Martha

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?  Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

This story takes place at a point in Jesus’ ministry when He was traveling around to various villages teaching and visiting His followers. He ends up visiting the home of the sisters Mary and Martha. These sisters are total opposites.  One is a hard worker, the other could be considered lazy by some.  But there are important lessons we can take away from their dinner party with Jesus.

We see Martha hard at work preparing the elaborate meal for Jesus. She seems to be making sure that everything is just right for Him.  Meanwhile, Mary is seated at the Lord’s feet just enjoying His presence and listening to what He is saying.  Of course Martha questions this, and to be honest I probably would have too.  Martha believes she is doing the right thing until she brings her complaints to Jesus and He gives her what I assume is a very different answer from what she was expecting.

Jesus tells Martha that Mary is doing the right thing; she is concentrating on Him and His words. Martha is too distracted by her preparations to listen to what Jesus is saying, or to even enjoy being in His presence.  He is implying to Martha that He doesn’t need a big, fancy meal; a small simple one would be enough.  What He really wants is Martha’s full attention.

Wouldn’t we all like to be the Mary in this situation? To be the one who can be at peace simply sitting at Jesus’ feet taking in His every word, undistracted by the busy-ness of the world.  To be the one who always seems to have time to talk to a friend or comfort a child.

However, I have a feeling that most of us end up being the Martha. Not that what Martha is doing is totally wrong.  We need people who work hard and get things done.  It is important to serve and help others.  But getting caught up in the details of this world can hurt our spiritual lives if that is all we concentrate on. We can lose track of our own spiritual needs as well as those of the people around us.

It is necessary to rest, be still, take in God’s word, and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. If we don’t do this we can quickly run out of steam and forget what the purpose of our work is, and then soon tire of what it is that is keeping us so busy. The purpose of our lives on this earth after all is to glorify God.  However, it’s not a bad thing to want to work, serve, and help out; in fact it’s a good thing!  But it can become a bad thing if it’s all you concentrate on and you miss both what’s going on both with the people around you and in your own soul.

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (Summary)

Lately, I have been listening to some of Pastor Andy Stanley’s messages online.  Someone recommended a series by him with the title “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating.”  Let me tell you, it is amazing!  Andy points out a lot of things that I had learned, but forgot about.  Things that are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT if you are a single person who hopes to have a successful marriage someday.  So at first I thought I would do my own series of posts on this same topic, but then I realized it would be better to no try to reinvent the wheel, after all Andy Stanley is much more eloquent than I am, and has much more knowledge on this topic.  In this post I will outline some of the points I believe are the most relevant and important to young single ladies (I might even put my own spin on it!), but I really encourage you to listen Andy Stanley’s messages as well.  Here’s the link:

http://northpoint.org/messages/the-new-rules-for-love-sex-and-dating

1. Are You the Person the Person You’re Looking for is Looking for?

Everyone seems to think that finding the right person to spend the rest of our lives with is the be-all and end-all of life.  It’s the thing that is supposed to solve all our problems.  I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but, the Disney movies are lying to you.  The thing that the movies don’t tell you is that marriage takes work, before and after.    The fact is that people with problems who bring all their problems to marriage just end up having more problems, marriage isn’t the solution.

People tend to think if they have some sort of problem when they get married it will magically go away because they found the perfect person and they make everything better.  That, I’m sorry to say is an unrealistic fairytale (ahem, Disney- not that I don’t like Disney movies! They’re just unrealistic!).   If you are lazy before marriage, you will be lazy after.  If you have a negative attitude before marriage, you will not magically become Snow White; you will still have a negative attitude. This is real life, and things are not automatically fixed as soon as the main characters get together. The point is that you need to BECOME the right person BEFORE you can find the right person.

2. Men are Accountable to God for How They Treat Women

We live in a culture where women want rights, but they are constantly devalued by men.  What I mean is that the world we live in teaches men that women are a commodity, something to be used.  It does this through the porn industry as well as other things.  But the truth is that God designed women to be loved and valued by men just as we are loved and valued by Him.

3. Sex is Not Only Physical

Sex was designed by God for one man and one woman in marriage forever.  So it follows that anything other than that is sin. God designed sex as a way to share intimacy in marriage.  Many people have separated the intimacy from the sexuality and therefore treat is as though it is only physical.

“Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?  For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  1 Corinthians 6:16-19

This passage clearly states that there is more to sex than just the physical.  Every time you have sex with someone you are becoming one with them and essentially giving a part of yourself away.  If you keep giving pieces of yourself away what will be left when you want to commit to one person forever?

I encourage you to decide ahead of time what honoring God with your body, as it says in this passage, looks like.  Also, determine the story you want to tell, and then live in a way that writes that story.  Because, giving up something now for something better later isn’t a sacrifice, it’s an investment.  Don’t ever feel pressured to give up your purity.

4. Commit Now to Being Someone Who Can Keep Commitments Later

So many people go into marriage thinking that if they can just keep the promises they make at the altar, everything will be alright.  Well, here’s how it is, if you are not prepared to keep those promises, you won’t be able to.  Look at it this way, I can promise you that I will run a marathon next week, but if I haven’t been training for that marathon for months previously I probably won’t be able to finish it! It’s the same with marriage, if you haven’t been preparing  yourself for commitment by committing to a Godly lifestyle now there is a good chance your marriage will fail.  Your inability to keep promises makes them worthless.

In this last message Andy talks about the importance of being prudent.  A prudent person know that all of life is connected and what you do in the past will affect your future.  He basically says that if you have done foolish things in the past or are doing them, you will probably do them in the future, unless you drastically change your point of view and lifestyle.  This not only applies you, but the person you want to potentially spend the rest of your life with.  Don’t marry a fool thinking they will change just because you marry them.  They won’t!  If anything their problems will probably get worse.  There are many other awesome points in this series, go listen for yourself!!

“The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way,
But the foolishness of fools is deceit.” – Proverbs 14:8

 

“The naive believes everything,
But the sensible man considers his steps.” – Proverbs 14:15

What Modesty Actually Looks Like

ImageI’m sure many of you reading this have an idea of modesty that is not at all flattering.  Maybe the word ‘modesty’ brings to mind images of long skirts, turtlenecks, and just general frumpiness.   I’m writing this because I want you to know that the Bible mentions none of those things when speaking of modesty.  So the news is good!  You don’t have to dress like a grandma or wear a burka in order to please God!   But a question remains… How should I dress?

Unfortunately the Bible doesn’t contain any step-by-step instructions or commandments (like ‘thou shalt not wear thy skirts above the knee!’) when talking about how women should dress. But it is not silent on the topic, it’s very clear that God doesn’t want us focusing on what we wear, but on what is in our souls and how we relate to others.  1 Peter 3:3-5 says:

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.”   1 Peter 3:3-5

I have always loved this passage, however I’m not totally sure I always understood its full meaning (not that I fully understand it now!).  It’s important to notice a few things.  First of all, Peter says, ‘Your adornment must not be merely external…’  Merely usually means something like ‘not only.’  So what Peter is saying is that our adornment must not be only external.  He means there are other things that need to be considered when thinking about beauty.  It’s also important to note that the specific external things he mentions are examples, and because we’ve already established that he’s not totally condemning all types of adornment, he is not saying we can’t braid our hair or wear gold jewelry or dresses.

Then we come to the heart of the matter.  Peter tells us to focus on the ‘hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.’  He is essentially challenging the way the world thinks of beauty and tells us to think the opposite way.  The world focuses on the external, and the external things will fail, they are perishable, everyone grows old.  But, the inner person can always be beautiful.  The more Christ-like we become the more beautiful we become in God’s sight.  Basically a gentle and quiet spirit is what we gain when we spend time learning God’s word and let it change us.

Having a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean that if we have loud personalities God won’t be happy.  As we learn more of God’s word and let it guide the way we think and act we will become more Christ-like.  This is what true modesty looks like.  Honestly, it doesn’t really matter how a person dresses as long as they are concentrated on God’s word and doing His will.

Here are some more links and resources that inspired and helped me write this post.

Rachel Held Evans Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think It Means; http://qideas.org/articles/modesty-i-dont-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means/

Jefferson Bethke: The Idolatry of Modesty; http://www.believe.com/articles/The-Idolatry-of-Modesty/

Do I Have A Gentle and Quiet Spirit? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=541

 

 

 

New Things Are Coming!

I’d like to apologize for my neglect of Radiate in the past few weeks. I’ve been extremely busy, but that’s no excuse. I hope to have a bunch of new things up in the coming weeks! In the mean time here’s a video that is sort of the inspiration for a series of posts I’m currently working on. It is a speech by Jessica Rey on modesty and it’s seriously thought provoking.
-Marissa

3 Lies We Believe About Prayer

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAPrayer is one of the most important parts of the spiritual life.  It’s how we communicate with God, we confess our sins, thank Him, and ask for things and He responds.  However, I think that many of us limit prayer, we put it in a box built of our own misconceptions. This is a list of three common lies about prayer, there are probably more, but I think these are some of the most common.

1.I Have to Pray in a Specific Way or God Won’t Hear My Prayer.

Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that our prayers have to be perfect and eloquent in order for them to be effective, but this is simply not true.  Prayer is a conversation with the Lord, there is no formula to follow, He just wants us to communicate with Him.  I love thinking of prayer as a conversation, for me, this makes my prayers all the more sincere because I don’t have to worry about saying the right thing in the right way.

Sometimes prayers don’t even consist of words.  There are times when we can’t even put what we are going through into words, let alone put together an intelligent prayer about it. But thankfully we have a God who knows us inside and out.  He knows our deepest thoughts and desires without us even telling Him.   In Romans 8:26 Paul tells us:

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

2.If I Don’t Have Enough Faith God Won’t Answer My Prayer.

“And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’”  Matthew 17:20

This verse clearly shows us that we can have the tiniest amount of faith, yet God will still move mountains for us, he will still answer our prayers.  God doesn’t answer our prayers based on how much faith we have, but because of who He is.

3. Prayer Isn’t That Important to My Spiritual Life.

This may not be a lie we believe consciously. But I find myself frequently putting prayer on the back burner.  In other words, I may know that prayer is vital to my walk with God, but I don’t act like it.  Many times I find myself only praying when I need something or I’m in a tough situation.  But God wants us to come to Him with everything, He wants to hear about our joy and our sadness, He wants us to tell Him everything and ask anything!

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1Thessalonians 5:17

5 Minutes

During the Olympics NBC tells us the inspiring stories of many athletes.  One in particular caught my attention and made me think. Sarah Burke was a pioneer in the sport of women’s ski half pipe, the 2014 Olympics mark the first time this event has been included in the games.  Sarah fought for years to get recognition for her sport. Unfortunately she did not live to see her dream fulfilled.  In 2012 she had an accident during a practice session and died from her injuries. She was only 30 years old.

                Sarah Burke’s tragic death at such a young age made me think about my own time on earth and how short it is.  I have come to realize that I’ve been living my life as if I am guaranteed to live until I’m 80.  There are so many exciting things I could be doing but my excuse is always, ‘I have time, I’ll do it tomorrow,’ or later or whenever.   But the thing is we are not guaranteed a long life.  Honestly, we aren’t even guaranteed out next breath.  The Lord holds our lives in His hands.  He can take us home to be with Him whenever He wants.

                Our purpose on this earth is to glorify God.  So the question I’ll leave you with is; what will you do with the time you’ve been given?  You might only have 5 minutes… what will you do with them?

“My times are in Your hand…” Psalm 31:15

“So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.” Ecclesiastes 11:10