Question and Answer: Modesty

Question:

Wondering if you wear dresses/skirts daily, and what are the reasons? Is it personal convictions or does your church preach it? Also do you do it because of the scripture in Deuteronomy? Thanks in advance :)

Mary’s amary2.jpgnswer:

Great question. Very recently my daughters and I have begun to wear jeans again, after many years of wearing dresses/skirts in public. At home we ride horses, garden, work hard–it’s not uncommon to have found us in jeans doing these things. My husband has no preference, except that we be modest in jeans or in skirts alike. The reason we are mixing it up in public, now, is that for 3 years we ran a booth at our local farmer’s market and always wore skirts. We always wanted to be a witness in our community at the market, to be “set apart” but approachable. In our attitude and smiles and attempts to initiate conversations we made many friends, but no one wanted to approach the subject of God, except to ask us if we were Pentecostals, Amish or Mennonite. We do not wear head coverings, or buns, or anything that would make us look Amish, etc, but this was the assumption everyone made about us. We are non-denominational, btw. My main reason then, in wearing skirts/dresses in public, was two-fold, but not based on any specific biblical injunction regarding women’s dress codes. 1) I did not want to cause anyone to stumble. Many Christians believe that wearing dresses and skirts is helpful to the “weaker brother” who may have tendencies toward lustful thoughts. 2) I love the femininity of females in skirts and dresses, especially in this genderless culture of ours. To make a long story short, we now know  that we actually were causing unbelievers to stumble. People that would have wanted to know about the joy that was within us, but were turned off by our skirts-only appearance, or the thought or assumption that we belonged to a strict denomination kept us from even getting to square one. I believe our conviction from the Lord now, is that we not cause our unbelieving friends to stumble and not come to the Lord b/c of our outward appearance. It is surely a bigger tragedy that someone might go to hell because they were afraid we would be too holier-than-thou to approach with questions about eternity, than that a man might have lustful thoughts when seeing a woman in pants. Maybe this is slightly skewed, but it’s where I’m at currently. Every woman needs to follow her own husband’s leading on this one, and if he’s like my husband (happy as long as we’re modest), she needs to settle it between herself and God.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has struggled with wanting to be more approachable to this culture. Not that we’d start wearing bikinis if we moved to Hawaii, but people tend to lump all skirt-wearing women into certain molds (yes, it’s wrong, and I really do prefer wearing skirts for the femininity factor) but I don’t want my outward “behaviorist” appearance to cause people to shy away, and never care to know if my fruit is the real thing.

Oh, the question also asked if my church preaches the dresses-only viewpoint. No, it doesn’t. In our fellowship, the ladies follow their own convictions based on their understanding of God’s word and their husband’s leading. That the issue of dress is not a doctrinal one, but one we believe is of personal conviction. So that should answer your Q about whether or not my decision to wear dresses in public (previously) was based on the Deuteronomy 22:5 passage which says,

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

There are different interpretations as to what context this passage is referring to…and as it is highly controversial, I’m not going to attempt to refute or affirm it from either camp. Let us each be thoroughly convinced in our own minds and live accordingly!

Thanks for the great question! If you have a question for me, contact me at Mary(@)homesteepedhope.com (w/o the parentheses).

 

 

Fruit Inspecting

Oranges2Have you ever been in danger of becoming a fruit inspector? As a Christian, there is nothing wrong with practicing prayerful discernment when it comes to choosing friends and fellowships, in fact, we’re told to examine our own hearts before the Lord as well. But fruit inspecting often doesn’t stop there.

We all have convictions about things. Some convictions are stronger than others, but it’s best to err on the gracious side of things when it comes to interpreting other folks’ walks in the faith. My convictions are personal to me, and between me, my husband, my family and God. The Bible says in Colossians 2:16,

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

We aren’t to judge on these things. Period. But I believe “fruit inspecting”–that is, judging one’s Christian-ness by one’s observable or outward “fruit”–is not only dangerous, it’s highly misleading and all puns aside: fruitless.

Look at the Pharisees. On the outside, they appeared to have it all going for them. They adhered to the “code”. The behavioral code. The good-works code. The dress code. The church attendance code. But they failed to love others, to have grace and mercy, to be humble from the inside out, willingly transparent about their struggles and faults. Their fruit wasn’t real, it wasn’t a result of being connected to the “Vine” or from abiding in Christ, nourished by Him alone. Remember that true fruit of the Spirit is defined in Gal. 5:22–23 as, “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…”

It is tempting to focus overmuch on outward appearances and behavior as signs of salvation, not only in our own lives but in others. But we all know what the Bible says about that.

1 Sam 16:7b says, “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

There’s got to be grace. And we can’t examine others without examining ourselves more closely. Think of how much we all had to learn the hard way…our desire should always be to encourage and edify other believers in the Lord, and be salt and light, but not to get in the way of the Holy Spirit. When a person becomes saved, they become justified (“just as if I’d never sinned!) and sanctified (made holy and righteous in Jesus) but there is also an ongoing process of  sanctification. Our Father has his ways of refining all of us. The Christian life is a refining fire…and some may have to spend 5 years in the wilderness as opposed to others spending 40. Our goal is the Promised Land, a victorious life through Christ as we by faith learn what it means to reckon ourselves dead to sin after salvation, and what it means to walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh. Or in other words, how to plug into the vine and just be grapes! Also, when we look for fruit in a Christian’s life, we are looking for Gal. 5 fruit, not works of the flesh. The works of the flesh contradict the works of the spirit.  Read Galatians 5 and see how entangled the Galatians were with works of the law. Circumcision was bondage to them. Is there anything wrong with circumcision? No. But making it part of salvation or the fruit of the spirit, of a life abiding in Christ, yes, that is taking it too far.

Also, how do we accurately judge another Christian’s fruit when there is definitely such a thing as a carnal Christian? This is dangerous territory and I believe the only reason to *go there* is to determine if this Christian is one we want to pursue fellowship with on a deeper level. Remember that iron sharpeneth iron, and we often assume the standards of those we befriend. This would be advice for the single gal who is waiting and watching for a godly future husband. Or to the new family at church who yearns for true fellowship with likeminded believers. Ask yourself, are they walking with Jesus Christ and evidencing all the fruit of the spirit, not just pieces of fruit here and there? Or are they ‘hearers only’ as James refers to? Are they servant minded, feet-washing believers–as our Savior was?

2 Corinthians 2:15 says,

“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:”

Our lives need to be a fragrance to the unsaved, our lives and fruit should attract unbelievers as they see Christ in us…If our lifestyle, actions, reactions, sins, or false piety, etc. raise questions and cause confusion to the unsaved, we become a stumbling block.

There is also a tendency to question our salvation or the salvation of others when we “fruit inspect”. We may say, ” Well, I haven’t consistently read my Bible in weeks, or shared the gospel with others in a long time. I feel far from God. I wonder if I’m really saved?” This is attaching works as if they are proof of salvation, when it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

Instead let us pray to our Father to keep us from being Pharisaical fruit inspectors and examine our hearts and others’ hearts by the word of God. Do we/they claim to be a Christian and lie? Do we/they claim to be a Christian and not have a servant’s heart for others? Do we/they claim to be a Christian and yet lack love and grace? That doesn’t mean those that do or don’t aren’t Christians, but it means we might not want to fellowship with ones that do these things, and it may mean an eventual heart to heart questioning them, “Hey, as a Christian, how do you reconcile this behavior of yours to the word of God, brother/sister?” A carnal Christian will have no joy or assurance in the carnal life, but they are still a Christian.

1 Corinthians 13: 3 really sums this topic up better than I ever could:

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Good works apart from true spiritual fruit profit nothing.

Want to know more about carnal Christianity? Here is a short article on the subject.

Fire Cider

A while back, my oldest and I attended a Mother Earth News Sustainability Fair and at one of the workshops taught by Rosemary Gladstar, we received a hand-out for her version of ‘Fire Cider’, something we traditionally make every late summer in prep for much needed fall and winter immune boosts. We call it ‘Super Tonic’. Same thing pretty much, but Rosemary’s recipe has a few quirks that I thought ya’ll would enjoy! Here’s my recipe post, from back in 2008, if you want to compare notes.

Rosemary Gladstar’s Fire Cider Recipe

  • 1/2 cup fresh grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated horseradish root
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 2 cayenne peppers, chopped
  • 1 lemon, chopped
  • unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (with the mother, like Bragg’s brand)
  • 1/4 cup raw local honey to taste (to be added after mixture has steeped for 3-4 weeks)

Optional ingredients:

  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 TB chopped fresh turmeric
  • 1 orange, chopped

Directions

Prepare all of the ingredients and place them into a quart sized jar. Cover all ingredients with apple cider vinegar. Use a piece of natural parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal. Shake daily. After 3-4 weeks, use cheesecloth to strain. Next comes the honey! Add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until incorporated. Taste your cider and add honey until you reach the desired sweetness.

This is good stuff!! Enjoy…

The Pride Test

I was sharing with a friend the other day about this pride test I came across online at the Revive Our Hearts website a few weeks ago. Talk about a powerful eye-opener. Instead of simply sharing the link in an email, I decided to post it here.

I’d like to encourage you to listen to the entire program, or read the complete transcript. The first time I found this, I skipped to the actual “pride test”, and it was so profound, I stopped there. But I went back a few days later and read the transcript in its entirety, and WOW. You don’t want to miss this call to a closer, purer walk with the Lord. You see, the Lord can’t come close to prideful people…and we all have pockets of pride in our lives.

Psalm 138:6 says, Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

Only the humble can hope to have the Lord draw near to them.

Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

This passage says that the Lord dwells with him that is contrite and humble…so don’t you want to know if there is anything in our lives that smacks of pride? It also promises revival to the spirit and hearts of the humble. I *want* that, don’t you?

The author of this “Pride Test” opens things up with this question:

When is the last time you said these words to a family member, to a friend, to a co-worker? “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” Let me tell you, if it’s been more than a month, mark it down. Haven’t you sinned in a month?

When was the last time you said that to your husband? “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” Why is it so hard for us to say those words? Why? Because we’re proud.

The Pride Test is thirty insightful questions everyone ought to ponder and pray over. I hope it and the article calls you to a greater awareness of what pride looks like in your own life, and how devastating a toll it can take on not only your relationship with the Lord, but also on the lives of those you care about.

Blessings,

Mary

Equipping the Saints website

Breezing in here to share a source of great wealth to me lately, the Equipping the Saints website. Are you struggling with hard things? Be encouraged by a site that explains how death to self takes faith to comprehend and experience. Learn about true humility, which only comes from Christ in us, when we abide in Him and stop struggling with being “good enough” or “doing enough” and just realize that until He takes over, we’re just good at getting in the way of progress! “Self” is a powerful enemy of the plans and purposes God wants to accomplish in our lives.

Here’s a quote from the site to whet your appetite!

“The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Him-self living His own life through us; ‘no longer I, but Christ.'” Miles J. Stanford

And something from the Lord to prick your heart,

John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Here’s to fruitfulness that only comes from reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ!

–Mary

Does the Holy Spirit ever contradict the Bible? Part 2

judgegavelIf you missed yesterday’s intro, please check it out here.

How does the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth?

Check it out: The Holy Spirit does guide us into all truth. How does he do that, so we can trust it? As you read the following proof texts, notice how interwoven the Spirit’s work is with the word of God. They go hand in hand. 

2 Peter 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

The Holy Spirit was key in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, as such, he will not contradict them.

1 Cor. 2:13, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

Don’t we prefer God’s wisdom over “Man’s wisdom” any day? We should. What does comparing “spiritual things with spiritual” mean? I believe it’s a direct insight into how to study the Bible with the Holy Spirit teaching…we are NOT to rely on man’s interpretation alone, rather we’re to use the Bible, letting it teach us by cross-referencing topics within the Bible. Get a concordance to make it easier and let the Bible define itself. We have learned how to do this in the past few years and there is no more rewarding study guide or commentary than the Bible itself. It is AWESOME! Watch it come alive to your whole family this way.  

1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world”

Here’s the bit about there being counterfeit spirits and how to test whether you are hearing from the Holy Spirit or not. See the next verse.

Same passage, verse 6,

“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

The Holy Spirit–the spirit of truth, is proven true or litmus tested by what those (Paul, John, other Bible authors) godly men wrote, and we hear His words that He spoke through them when we read the word. It’s pretty black and white–if you won’t heed the scriptures that they wrote…you are not of God. (Another litmus test, you could say, of the “believers” in your life, do they heed the Bible or are they constantly correcting it, doubting it, attacking it?)

John 8:47 is another profound statement of the above. If we do not heed God’s word, we do not belong to God. 

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” 

Paul emphasizes this more, with rejoicing, in 1 Thess. 2:13,

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”  (emphasis mine)

And these last ones found in John chapters 15, 16 & 17 are just icing on the cake as we wrap up this topic of the Holy Spirit’s guiding, truth, and God’s word: 

John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”

THREE Objectives of the Holy Spirit

Wow! Three of the Holy Spirit’s objectives are listed by Christ in John 16:7-8,

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (emphasis mine)

The Holy Spirit’s first function is to “reprove the world of sin”…He points out sin, he doesn’t overlook it, or tolerate it…because he is HOLY. He helps us see our need for repentance and for Jesus, and then He grows us in the Lord.

John 17:14-17, again, words of Christ,

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  (emphasis mine)

What is the definition of truth? thy word is truth Jesus is talking to God the Father. “Thy” is referring to the Father’s truth, God’s word, which incidentally is another name for Jesus in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In another place, Jesus says he is the letters of the Greek alphabet themselves: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

So we go back to John 16:13-14,

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

We know that the Bible defines “truth” as God’s word, and through it, we are sanctified as Holy Spirit led believers in Jesus Christ’s shed blood at the cross for our sins, that he rose again and is sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us this very day.

We need to remember that Christians are not immune to deception, nor are we immune to being unknowingly used as tools by the evil one. We read the opposite when we see Jesus rebuke Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan!”, and in the example of Ananias and Sapphira when Peter tells Ananias that Satan has filled his heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. Even in the Old Testament there are examples for our learning, when God’s greatest leaders relied on their own perceptions of truth apart from and in direct defiance of God’s word to them, and were deceived resulting in lifelong and devastating consequences. Joshua and the Gibeonites, with their sob story and moldy bread, for one example (look it up!). We are even told that we aren’t to offer hospitality to false teachers (2 Jn 1:11-13)…not that we can’t share Christ’s gospel with them, but that we are “partakers in their evil deeds” if we invite them into our homes, sup with them, or even bid them godspeed! Obviously, the Lord directs us in scripture to take these things very seriously..so the next time you are praying for guidance, and you receive advice that doesn’t line up with scripture…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Does the Holy Spirit ever contradict the Bible? Part 1

judgegavelHow many times has someone said to you, “The Holy Spirit told me so!” Was it really the Holy Spirit? Let’s explore this.

The idea that we can be Spirit-led even when the “spirit” is contradicting God’s word is embraced by many today, and along with it, the authority–much less the credibility–of the Bible is under attack. The danger here is in crafting a “god of our own imagination”…I guess it all boils down to: What is truth? People everywhere subscribe to a “version” of their own truth, but in a study of what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit’s purpose and working in a Christian’s life we see that it’s all very straight-forward. If you believe the Bible…

Recently some friends and I were discussing this. I said, “How do we know what is truth, if we do not have an authority to turn to? We can’t rely on the Holy Spirit alone, especially if it contradicts God’s own words.”

This was interpreted as me saying that the Bible trumps the Holy Spirit. That the Spirit is incapable of guiding us into all truth and that the only way to stay out of hell was a literal reading of the Bible…

I should have clarified that the Holy Spirit will NEVER contradict the Bible, God’s words. Yes, the Holy Spirit is capable of guiding us into all truth–that is scriptural! So, hell aside, what did I mean exactly?

I meant that people get into trouble when they dismiss the relevance of the Bible, and rely on what they sincerely think is the Holy Spirit. Maybe they are being led of the Spirit..but the Bible tells us that there are “spirits of truth and spirits of error”…without knowledge of the Bible and how the Holy Spirit works in a believer’s life, we are ripe for deception by “other spirits”.

This is KEY: Galatians 1:6-9, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Paul is so serious  here, that he repeats this strong statement in verse 9, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Equally strong warning is found in 2 Cor. 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

A few years ago, this was a new concept to me…that there could be “another Jesus”…a counterfeit of the REAL Jesus. Not only a counterfeit Jesus, but a counterfeit gospel, presented as if it was the gospel of Christ. Along with this warning, we find many many others in the New Testament, in John, 2 Peter, Jude, 1-3 John, and in most of the Pauline epistles. So let’s take it to heart. There are many deceptions out there masquerading as the REAL deal. There is safety in no man, not even in seminaries or Bible scholars, or your beloved pastor, only in God and outlined clearly in his words to us–the Bible. In the end, WE are held accountable, and thank God for pastors and teachers–we’re sure blessed by many, but even the most godly of men can be sincerely wrong, so know the Book–it will reveal truth about our God and Savior,  and cover all the bases.

Tomorrow we will delve DEEP into scripture to see how exactly the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth!

 

The Great Science Debate

KJV_BibleLast Tuesday we popped up some kettle corn and gathered round the computer for what’s being called “The Debate of the Century”. It was 2 hours and 45 minutes of Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye the Science Guy tackling the question, Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern Scientific Era?

The disappointing thing about the debate was that they didn’t get very far on the topic specified, but still, we were euphoric by the end, because Ken Ham did a fantastic job of presenting the validity of the Young Earth Creationist viewpoint and how scientists have been using the Bible for centuries to make valid predictions in the field. He had an impressive line-up of video presentations, including live interview clips by Creation scientists (such as Dr. Raymond Damadian who revolutionized modern medical technology with the invention of the MRI scanner) to back up his data. Most of all, we were impressed with Ken’s humble, gracious attitude and his heart for truth. He unashamedly admitted many times that he takes the Creation account literally, and presented the gospel at least 3 times during the debate…with scripture.

Ken Ham also pointed out the two kinds of science, a differentiation widely ignored by mainstream science. That is, that there is a big difference between historical science dealing with origins, and observable or operational science. Mainstream science wants to claim that there is no difference, hence their claim that an evolutionary worldview is essential to proper scientific understanding and procedure…which is not true at all.

Our children are ages 16, 13 and 9, and we figured there would be some evidence from Bill Nye’s argument for evolution that we’d have to research and debunk. On the contrary…I can’t tell you how many times the kids hit the pause button and spouted off the real science behind the manipulated facts Nye presented as solid evidence. I guess all of those creation seminar dvds and Apologia textbooks have been worth the hours spent studying! If you watched the debate and have questions, the Answers in Genesis website put together an “Answers” page, that provides answers for everything Bill Nye brought up during the debate. We were also disappointed that Nye didn’t seem to take this discussion very seriously, nor did he address the questions Ken Ham had for him. He kept saying that if Creationists gave one piece of evidence for an out of place fossil (using the secularists’ own dating methods), he’d be so grateful, science would be so grateful.  Ken Ham gave him that evidence, and even a picture of it in his slideshow–45,000-year-old wood in 45-million-year-old rock! Bill Nye willingly ignored it. Now he is calling for Ken Ham to build an exact replica of Noah’s ark and see if it is seaworthy for over a year. The interesting thing about the ark, is how it affected early Naval architecture. I’ve linked to more info, if you are interested.

If you would like to watch the debate, I am not sure how much longer they will leave it up for public viewing, but the Answers in Genesis YouTube Channel still has the debate available, as well as the Post-Debate Commentary, which we also highly recommend watching.

Estimates are that at least 5 million people from 190 countries were tuned in at one point or another to this debate…that is amazing coverage. And the debate is bleeding over into conversation all over the internet. My take-away from that? This topic of creation vs evolution has been silent due to secular censorship for far too long—and people want to discuss it!

One last important note. There are many Christians that believe God created the world via the big bang or that evolution can be explained into the creation story. To this, Ken Ham asks…how could millions of years of animal death, disease, predation, extinction and other natural evils such earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, as evidenced in the fossil record, come before man’s sinful fall in the garden and God’s subsequent curse? There really is nothing about evolutionary origins that is compatible with the Biblical account.

And that’s my .02 cents about the big debate!

Overcoming emotional hurts with Christ’s help

I often get letters, behind scenes, expressing great anguish and crippling turmoil over familial hurts that seem insurmountable and are accompanied by pleas for help. I just wanted to answer this one publicly and with virtual hugs. It’s okay. Jesus understands. And you are not alone. Here’s my story.

First, I want to tell you, I understand. I understand the being overwhelmed, the agony, the injustice, the “no one can understand and possibly everyone things I’m over-reacting”. The not being able, much less willing, to put yourself out as a target when those “archers” responsible are in the same vicinity! I felt the same emotional turmoil for years, whenever I was around a certain someone. Those were hard but growing years. I’m so thankful for a godly mother’s counsel, and her strong shoulder on which I cried many times.

Like you, survival meant keeping a distance and meantime in the civil distance, with much prayer and a lot of maturity in both the other person and myself, I have been able to put the hurtful things that happened behind me. I NEVER thought I’d be able to be around that person with my guard down, but happily I am. I pray that over time and with God’s healing between you and this other person, total renewal (love, forgiveness, trust) will be gained. Until then, you are wise to listen to your loving heavenly Father and protect your fragility, build yourself up in the confidence and strength that comes from the Lord.

1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:”

2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

Our heavenly Father will equip you. Perfect love casts out fear! Pray that Jesus will give you an overwhelming love–unconditional with no past recriminations hovering–for this person. A love that will cover their human failings toward you.If you are like me, you will have many kneeling-before-the-throne sessions, weeping, praying for the burden to leave. But the joy isn’t in the burden leaving, as much as it is in surviving it by God’s grace and coming out on the other side scathed, but healed, and enabled to help spread the message of hope that you’ve experienced firsthand.

The Lord gave me that for my situation. I wanted to bawl for joy when he crushed that last wall I’d built for my sanity and protection, and let me just feel love and compassion for the one that had hurt me so, with no history tainting it WHATSOEVER. I even cleared the air with them, and apologized for my part in the problem, not hinting at anything they might have done. It is so over–and I am free and so incredibly thankful to have that horrible, crippling angst of a burden rolled off my heart. To be able to be around them with no hurts between us any more is a MIRACLE! He is faithful so just keep hounding the Lord for peace and healing on this–even if your loved one never changes–I believe you will get to the point of having a Jesus-love for him or her that can see past their faults and sins and even let this unfair treatment of you and hurtful words roll off of you because you are SO bathed in Jesus’ affirmation and love, blood-covered and GRACED out, that you’ll hurt more for this other person than yourself when those darts hit their mark.

Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

But, in the meantime, do keep your distance so you can focus on healing and commit to pray hard for this perfect work. I can’t explain how all my hurts, anger, insecurities, jealousies over the injustice of it all (false rumors, etc.) were completely vanquished and it wasn’t overnight…but it definitely happened and it was all Jesus. I think of this person now with so much love, sometimes with tears as I pray for their precious family. What a blessing!

Having read all of that, I hope you get a message of HOPE and can see that I’m not judging, because I’ve been there. Perhaps I didn’t have as much to forgive in my situation, as you do in yours, but Jesus can handle it.

Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Psalm 27:1, “The  LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

The blessing of total forgiveness is that forgiveness will come much easier for you down the road when others hurt you. The more like Christ we become, the more dead we become to self, and “dead people” don’t get offended or hold bitterness or grudges. I would much rather be dead to “self” and alive to Christ. For more on this, you may want to read my Dying to Self series. For now I’ll leave you with Galatians 2:20,

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

God bless you and heal you as you seek His ways in all you do…

Gluten-free, egg-free Brownies and Blondies

These recipes are for my gluten-free friends…Mary B, you especially!

This is my friend Jane’s specialty. She is allergic to eggs so she came up with this fudgy delicious substitute to regular brownies. The secret ingredient will most likely surprise you…canned beans! There are many recipes for gluten-free Black Bean brownies and White Bean Blondies on the internet, but these don’t have eggs.

IMPORTANT: in my opinion, these brownies need 24 hours in the fridge to meld the flavors to perfection. In fact…the first time I made them I was really disappointed. We ate them while still warm from the oven, and they really didn’t do much for me. In fact, blech! But by the next morning…WOW–they were amazing! Everyone said so. So take my word for it, and save the majority of them till the next day. (because I know you will have to sample at least one straight from the oven…)

You can thank me later for that tip. *Smile*

Another IMPORTANT thing: you will need a food processor or good blender for this recipe.

Black Bean Brownies

  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup chocolate chips (we think dark chocolate is best!)
  • more chips on top for presentation, if desired (you will so desire!)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Drain beans. Combine all ingredients (except chips) in a good food processor, or blender, and blend till completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour the mixture into a greased 8×8″ pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the brownies 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Then let them cook 10 minutes or more before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas or white beans
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*F. Drain beans. Blend all ingredients (except chips) until very smooth in a good food processor or blender. Mix in chips and pour mixture into a greased 8×8 inch pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chips over the top. Bake for around 30 minutes. They will look a little undercooked when you take them out, but they will firm up as they cool, and you don’t want them to get hard.

A note about Gluten-Free…

Those of you that are deathly allergic to gluten know what is and isn’t allowable. I do not claim to know the ins and outs of Gluten-free…so before making these and blessing all your GF friends with them…do some research. For instance…I know that gluten-free oats and gluten-free chocolate chips exist…but I don’t know if that’s just because the GF movement is taking advantage of the fact that most normal people don’t have any idea that chocolate chips contain gluten. ?? I know gluten is found in some very strange things, like certain soda-pops. So use your discretion.

If any gluten-free folks can shed some light on the ingredients in this recipe, I’d sure love to know!

Thanks, and enjoy this healthy recipe!

 

Rejoicing in hope…Romans 12:12