7.25.2014

"Fifty Shades" Revisited {And More About the "More"}

 










With Fifty Shades of Grey showing up all over social media again due to the recently released movie trailer, I decided to pull out this post from a couple of years ago, dust it off and polish it up a bit, and repost today.  My feelings haven't changed since it was originally posted; if anything, they've gotten stronger.  This is heavy on my heart!

As I've re-read this post this morning, however, the thoughts on my heart go beyond Fifty Shades.  No, I'm not going to read the book or see the movie, but while my feelings are very strong about the book/movie, if that's where our focus is, we're missing the point.  The whole point of this post two years ago was that I wanted to be so caught up in God's best for me, and for my family, that reading the book or seeing the movie wasn't even on my radar. 

My focus needs to be on HIM.  As I said way down there at the end...how can my mind and heart be focused on the wonder and majesty and love, mercy, and grace of the Almighty God and even think of filling my mind with the likes of Fifty Shades?  But that doesn't just apply to this particular book or movie.  It applies to anything that would be offensive to Him.

And as He continues to teach me, the point is not just to avoid the bad stuff (although that's important!) The point is to be filling my mind and heart (and my children's minds and hearts!) with HIM, every moment of every day.  Am I truly doing that?  That's the question on my heart today as I share these thoughts from two summers ago: 

Shock and a Soapbox

(Sunday 07.08.12)
I really wasn't going to post about "the book" (Fifty Shades of Grey) or "the movie" (Magic Mike).  There has been much said recently about both, including quite a bit by people I felt were saying it much better than I could.  This morning, however, when I found myself headed into multiple paragraphs in a comment on a link on a friend's Facebook wall, I realized that I apparently was going to post after all. 


My friend Tauna (whose blog you really need to check out if you haven't already!) posted the link to Joshua Harris's blog post on her Facebook wall last night.  I had already read both his post and the post he referenced by Melissa Jenna (as well as posts by a few other bloggers), but as I read the comments this morning, I was stunned all over again by the reactions.  


One of the best posts I've read on "the book" is this post by Dannah Gresh on the True Woman site.   One of the commenters on the Josh Harris post mentioned the backlash in the comments on the Dannah Gresh post.  I had not read the comments, but I was shocked as I began to read this morning.  Not shocked at comments by those who don't claim the name of Christ...those I would understand defending such things...but shocked at comments by people who do claim a relationship with Christ and yet defend this book.  


This was my comment on Tauna's link this morning...


What I cannot understand is how there can be ANY controversy about this book or this movie among those who profess to be Christians. What a heartbreaking example of Satan's powers of deception. So many people have no idea the "slippery slope" of porn and how devastatingly dangerous it can become very quickly...regardless of the gender of the one who partakes. I had read the True Woman post referenced in the comments of the Josh Harris post earlier this week, but hadn't read the comments. Wow. I am absolutely floored....although I shouldn't be. This is the power of the enemy and I am convinced that porn...in all it's stages and variations...is one of his strongest weapons in this age. *Sigh* I think I've pulled my soapbox out and hopped on...I had said that I wasn't going to blog on this, because there are already so many good blog posts out there on this topic, but I'm afraid I feel one coming on...because I am flooded with thoughts on this. One I have already shared, though, is this, " I want to be so caught up in the "more" that God created me for that I don't have time for books or movies like these to even be on my radar."

(Monday 07.09.12)

Husbands and Hogwash!

I had lots of thoughts on the book, the movie, and the posts/comments about them when I started this post early yesterday.  I've struggled with saying what I want and need to say all day.  There are many specific, random issues I have with the book, the movie, and those who are defending them.  For instance, I've seen several people comment that men as well as women should read the book, because supposedly, through the main character (who uses pain, dominance, and bondage in his relationships with women), men can learn how to truly love and romance their wives.  


As more than one pastor of mine has said, there is a good Greek word for that...HOGWASH!! 


Men are not to follow the example of the hero in an erotic novel to know how to love their wives...they are to follow the example of Christ in the way that He loves His bride, the Church. 


Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word,  so that He might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25-33

For Christians Only

There are other specific issues I could address, but as I've prayed over this post the last two days, I've taught a Sunday School lesson and heard two sermons that really summed it all up.  (Interestingly, the two sermons were by different guest preachers yesterday in the absence of our pastor.  Both sermons tied in perfectly with the youth Sunday School lesson yesterday morning, and with this post.)




The Bible says that lust is sin.  The Bible says that sex outside of marriage is sin.  That's the starting point for this next part of the post.   For those who don't believe the Bible is the true, inerrant, holy Word of God...well, I'm glad to have you reading, and hope you'll stay and read some more, and I'd love to chat with you via the comments or email about that.  However, this particular post really isn't for you.  Because until a person realizes the depth of their sin against the holy and righteous Creator of the universe, repents of that sin, and accepts the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus...the rest really doesn't matter much.  If you haven't taken that step, I'd love to chat with you about it!


But my focus in this post is Christians...those who claim to have been convicted of sin, turned to God in repentance, and accepted that gift of eternal life...those who claim the name of Christ.  


For those who truly are Christ-followers, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and Jesus Christ has become the Lord of our lives.  Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was on Romans 7:20-8:9...Victory over sin and death through the Holy Spirit.  Paul says:


Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  (Romans 7:20-8:9)

The girls and I discussed that there is a war going on, as Paul says in these verses, in every Christian...a war between our new self and our old sin nature.  But...Jesus Christ has already won the war through His death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit helps us to live in that victory. 


But how do we live in that victory?  The key, according to this lesson, is our mind-set...our way of thinking, developed by what we make the focus of our lives.  As these verses say, "those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."


If we set our minds on things of the flesh, our flesh will control us.  If we set our minds on things of the Spirit, the Spirit controls us.  If we are truly Christians, by relationship, and not only by name, we are to have our hearts set on the things of God, not on things of this world.  The more we feed our flesh, the less sensitive we are going to be to the prompting and conviction of the Holy Spirit.  This gives Satan greater opportunity to deceive us...to make things that are sin look beautiful and appealing.  That is what he has been doing since the Garden of Eden...making things that God calls evil look good.  That deception is obvious in the discussion in Christian circles about this book and this movie. 

What is Gray (Or Grey)?

I shared this story with the girls yesterday, not for the first time.  Many years ago, when I was in college, Gilbert and Susan Baker were my Sunday School teachers.  There are many things that have stuck with me all these years from my time in their class, but one of the biggest was about gray areas.  Gilbert quoted 1 John 1:5...God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.  Gray, he pointed out, is white with a bit of black added...light with a bit of darkness.  But "in Him is no darkness at all."  So...if it is gray...it is not of God.  We are to "walk in the light, as He is in the light" (1 John 1:7)  And if we back up a verse there, He says that "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth." 


After that Sunday School lesson, I went into not one, but two, sermons that tied in perfectly. I love it when God does that!  The first was taken from the book of Judges and was on the importance of the King (Jesus) being on the throne of our hearts...in other words, the importance of His Lordship in our lives...and the catastrophic results of sin when we do not allow Him that Lordship.  


The second sermon was taken from John 4.  Bro. Gary quoted Walter Chantry, author of Today's Gospel, Authentic or Synthetic, saying, "Only a small portion of those who 'make decisions' evidence the grace of God in a transformed life," and then said, "We've stopped telling people that their sin offends a Holy God."  "We've got to get back to offending people," he pointed out, saying that if the Gospel doesn't step on our toes, something is wrong. 


Two other things that stuck out from Bro. Gary's sermon last night, with this blog post in the back of my mind: 

*Anything that is offensive to God should be offensive to us.

*People who are saved are going to thirst after the things of God.  
Based on those truths: 

1. Sexual immorality is offensive to God; therefore, it should be offensive to us

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.     1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (That applies in the reverse as well.)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

2. If we are saved, we are going to thirst after the things of God.  

Another blogger posting on this subject said, "We were made for so much more!"  I commented on her post, " I want to be so caught up in the "more" that God created me for (and I want the same for my children) that I don't have time for books/movies like these to even be on my radar. "  I want to be seeking after Him with all my heart!  I want to be so full of His best for me that everything else fades into complete obscurity.  

But Think on These Things!

The other thing that really struck me yesterday in relation to this post was a song we sang in the morning worship service.   This song by Mark Altrogge so perfectly declares the holiness, glory, beauty, majesty, and righteousness of our God.   How can we even think of filling our minds with the likes of Fifty Shades or Magic Mike in the light of His love and mercy and grace?

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard 
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You 
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You

You are beautiful beyond description
Yet God crushed You for my sin
In agony and deep affliction
Cut off that I might enter in
Who can grasp such tender compassion?
Who can fathom this mercy so free?
You are beautiful beyond description
Lamb of God who died for me

What About You?

"I want to be so caught up in the more He created me for that I don't have time for books/movies like these to even be on my radar.  I want to be seeking after Him with all my heart!  I want to be so full of His best for me that everything else fades into obscurity."

Is that your heart today? Do you share those desires?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments here or on Facebook, or through the "contact me" box on the right.  Disagree?  Feel free to share also...as long as it stays clean and friendly.  I reserve the right to delete if I feel something crosses the line. :)


***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you! 
***
  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  

Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  
If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  
You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.    

7.09.2014

Hope Deferred {Blog Tour}




This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Hope Deferred


HopeSprings Books (July 1, 2014)


by


Elizabeth Maddrey





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who loves a good happily ever after.




Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of computers, math, and organization steered her into computer science at Wheaton College, she always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. This continued through a Master’s program in Software Engineering, several years in the computer industry, teaching programming at the college level, and a Ph.D. in Computer Technology in Education. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity.




She lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys.




ABOUT THE BOOK





Christian fiction for women.

Can pursuit of a blessing become a curse?

June and July and their husbands have spent the last year trying to start a family and now they're desperate for answers. As one couple works with specialists to see how medicine can help them conceive, the other must fight to save their marriage.
Will their deferred hope leave them heart sick, or start them on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams?




If you would like to read the first chapter of Hope Deferred, go HERE.


My Thoughts:

The second book in the "Remnants" series, Hope Deferred continues the story of sisters July and June and their husbands and their struggles with infertility. Author Elizabeth Maddrey does a masterful job of giving the reader a true picture of the difficulties couples face in this area on multiple levels. 

Both couples are faced with decisions of immense proportions, and Maddrey does an excellent job of exploring the factors involved from the perspective of the sisters and their husbands.  She also brings out the spiritual issues, marital conflicts, and medical dilemmas that can accompany the intense desire for a child.

There were a couple of instances of mild language that I was a bit surprised to see in a work of Christian fiction.  Also, while I realize that this book is the second in a series, I tend to prefer series books that entice the reader to finish the series while also being able to stand alone.  This book left things hanging a bit more than I care for.

Overall, however, it was a good, if somewhat heart-wrenching, read. 
 
Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Chalfont House and CFBA in exchange for my honest review.

7.02.2014

My Weary Soul Restored ~ Eight Years Later






I've waited for the tears to come all day. I was so amazed at my reaction to the day (or lack thereof)  last year, but wondered if perhaps it was all just a fluke. I expected it to hit hard today. I expected the tears to flow. I expected the anxiety to return.

I know the day's not over yet, but so far, there's been none of that. I did wipe away a few tears a bit ago, but they weren't sad tears.  They were tears of thankfulness as I read through blog posts from this same week over the last seven years and was reminded of how far God has brought us, how much He has taught us about Himself, and how incredibly faithful He has been every step of the way.


Trust His Heart ~ July 2, 2008




That's not to say there aren't hard days. I told a friend the other day that I've had some real struggles about the whole situation recently for various reasons.  That just happens from time to time. But as far as the whole "anniversary trauma" issues that were so hard in earlier years, God has replaced that with peace and thankfulness.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  
~John 14:27

Eight years ago today, our world exploded.  Life as we'd known it before was over; nothing would ever be the same.  We'll be dealing with aftereffects for the rest of our lives.  But...God heals. He restores.  He gives new life and growth.  He brings blessing out of brokenness.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  
~Psalm 147:3

Eight years ago this week, Billy and I were reeling, having no idea how to handle the situation our family had been thrust into.  At the time when making the correct decisions was more vital than it ever had been before, we were completely unable to seek counsel or help.  We realized that it was us and God, and we began to depend on Him in a way we never had before.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  
~Isaiah 41:10

We had quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 for years.  Now we were living it in a way we could never have imagined. We learned what trusting Him with all our hearts truly meant, and what leaning not on our own understanding (or man's understanding in general) looked like.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. 

He never failed us...not once.  At every single step along the way, He made our path abundantly clear.  We prayed at every new juncture: Father, please give us no choice but the right one.  Make it so clear that there is absolutely no doubt. And at every point, He did exactly that.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
~James 1:5

There will always be "new layers of the onion".  There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when the peace of the last couple of years will be radically jolted by necessary circumstances. But the God who never changes will be faithful in those days just as He has been until this point.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 
~James 1:17


For now, God continues to heal.  Our children are thriving.  And we are thankful.

***
How has God answered His promises to you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments here or on the Facebook page.  Are you going through a time of anguish right now?  I would love to pray for and with you. Please message me through the "Contact Me" box in the sidebar.

***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you! 
***
  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  

Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  
If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  
You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.   




7.01.2014

The Complete Index to Blogathon 2014 at Ponderings of an Elect Exile




I've gone round and round all day trying to decide whether or not to publish a post today.  On the one hand, it's July 1, I've posted 30 days in a row, and a break was certainly in order. On the other hand, it's July 1, I've posted 30 days in a row, and why lose the momentum?  Two sick children, a bunch of cooking to do, and more lawn mower issues almost decided for me.

I decided on a compromise: gathering all my Blogathon 2014 posts into one big comprehensive index for easy reference.

So here they are, in case you missed any, or perhaps want to re-read something. Enjoy!




2014 Blogathon Posts:
 

June 1 ~ June 1, 2014 Blogathon, and Poor Planning on My Part

June 2 ~ Wrecking Balls, Rip Van Winkle, and the Journey Back to Transparency
June 3 ~ 10 From the Tabs
June 4 ~ Simple Woman's Daybook {Blogathon Edition}
June 5 ~ A Not-So-Simple Case of Blogger's Block
June 6 ~ Blogging at Ponderings of an Elect Exile: The How and the Why of It
June 7 ~ A Baker's Dozen of Favorite Posts from 2013
June 8 ~ Encouraging Words in Photos
June 9 ~ Word Cloud
June 10 ~ Empowerment for Women...Or Maybe Not
June 11 ~ ICAD!!

June 12 ~ Anne Ortlund: Legacy of a Heroine of the Faith
June 13 ~ Surrounded By His Sovereignty
June 14 ~ My Life Between Two Covers:  A Lifetime of Anne Ortlund Inspired Notebooks
June 15 ~ More Anne Ortlund, "Just Hanging Around", and a New Series
June 16 ~ The Church's One Foundation
June 17 ~ Tech Tuesdays: Social Media {Etc} For {Not-So} Techy People
June 18 ~ 10 From the Tabs
June 19 ~ Understanding in the Unthinkable: A Call to Action for the Body of Christ
June 20 ~ Fitness Friday: Never Say Never!
June 21 ~ The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men
June 22 ~ Pew Ponderings: Tough Love!
June 23 ~ Prayer Ponderings
June 24 ~ Summer Reading List 2014
June 25 ~ Blogathon Wrap-Up 2014
June 26 ~ Thankful Thursday
June 27 ~ Do YOU Get It? Six Ways You Can Get It and Help Others Get It, Too
June 28 ~ Fitness Friday on Saturday...Lightbulb Moments!
June 29 ~ Pew Ponderings: Placing Ourselves Deeply
June 30 ~ Simple Woman's Daybook {End of Blogathon Edition}

Did you have a favorite post from this year's Blogathon? I'd love to hear about it in the comments here or on Facebook!


***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you! 

***
  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  

Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  
If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  
You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.    
 
 

6.30.2014

Simple Woman's Daybook {End of Blogathon Edition!!}


It's the last day of Blogathon. I have to publish a post in the next five hours in order to be able to say I completed the 2014 June Blogathon challenge.  And this year has been a challenge for sure!  There have been nights I have blogged through sheer, absolute exhaustion, but I have made it, 29 days in a row.

And an hour ago I wondered if I was going to have to admit defeat 6 hours and one post before the finish line.

I used to have horrid migraine-intensity headaches quite frequently.  In the last few years, those headaches have happened much less often. Typically if I'm going to have one, I'll wake up with it.  It's rare for one to hit later in the day.

The last few weeks, though, the mid-and-late-day headaches have begun to strike again. One hit tonight...hard.  Today has been crazy...catching up from the utter chaos of last week (my mom's accident, my working for her, Billy being on vacation, etc., etc.), paying bills, and trying to get in a "real" workout at the gym, after the helter-skelter workouts of last week.

I got home from the gym, fixed a quick sandwich and salad supper for those who were home at the time, sat down in my chair and realized, "I could go to sleep right now."  I know that part of that is the heat...I don't do heat well anymore...and I also realized that part of it was that I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep.

Even since I started this post, I've caught myself nodding off at my desk. But I am determined to finish out this month...I'm too close to quit now!  So...we'll wrap up this month's Blogathon with another Simple Woman's Daybook post, and then I'm ready for some quality time with my pillow! :)


30 June 2014
Outside my window...sunny and hot.

I am thinking...about this Spurgeon quote Bro. Gary shared last night:
It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.
I couldn't help but think about the timeliness of that reminder.  Eight years ago Wednesday, our world exploded. God hurt us deeply. More deeply than we could ever have dreamed. But oh, how He has blessed! Through the darkest of those days, He showed us Himself in ways I don't know that we could ever have seen otherwise.  He continues to remind us of His sovereignty, faithfulness, goodness, and love. 

And I am thankful...for the blessing of that hurt, and those constant reminders!

In the kitchen...once again, working on reducing our food waste. We get busy, I get sidetracked, and we end up tossing way too much. I hate it!!  And with the price of groceries going up every day, we need to be better stewards of our resources. 

I am wearing...black exercise capris and a black t-shirt

I am creating...I hope I'm going to do a better job of creating ICADS (Index Card A Day) in July than I did in June!  I'm hoping to do all 31 days in July.  I need the creative challenge!  Ammah Grace has been doing really well with hers, though, and I'm looking forward to posting pictures of hers soon!


I am wondering...if I'm really going to finish this post by midnight, lol!  Tonight has been full of interruptions, and my brain is mush to begin with.

I am reading...working my way through this list of books. I'm hoping my head settles enough to get in a bit of reading before bed.  I'm a bit behind, with June almost over!

I am hoping...all is well across the street. As I was typing this post, we heard sirens, and suddenly there were four fire trucks across the street and down a couple of houses. However, there aren't any visible flames, and the firemen don't seem to be moving with urgency. Hoping it was a false alarm or a small kitchen fire that was easily doused. 

And hoping that we are done with the excitement around here for a while!  The police have been here twice this week (they got the wrong address when they came to arrest a neighbor at 3:45 a.m. the other morning, and then were back the next day when our mower was stolen right off our porch.) Craziness!

I am looking forward to...celebrating Independence Day on Friday! 

I am learning...a lot about the science of exercise/fitness! I've mentioned before that I'm a researcher at heart, and anytime we start something new, I dig into the research. :) Right now it's all about weights, physical fitness, and fueling the body before and after workouts.

Around the house...catching up from our "vacation" week last week. :) Enough said!

I am pondering...plans for the second half of 2014!  Not only am I working on plans for the new month that begins tomorrow, but I'm also making plans for the rest of the year. I hope to share more about that soon!

A favorite quote for today...

"It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our death beds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the Grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace wondrous grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. Yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me." 
~Martyn Lloyd-Jones via Scotty Smith

One of my favorite things...watching Bay prepare for VBS.  She is lead teacher for the 5 year old class this year, and she has worked so hard putting things together. Makes me teary sometimes to see the work God is doing in her life! :)

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Helping Bay finish the last of her VBS plans
TKD Tuesday and Thursday
Normal chores, school, and church stuff
Gym at least 3 more days
Independence Day cookout with our church family Friday :)

A photo to share...

Emlyn and I both got our ears pierced Friday. :)  We'd both had them pierced before, but for various reasons, our holes had grown up.  We'd been talking for a while about having them re-done, and Friday we made a rather spur-of-the-moment trip for new holes! :)

It's 9:19 p.m., and I'm just about to hit "publish" on the last post of the June 2014 Blogathon.  Can I get a WhoooHooo????!!!!  I would do a happy dance, but my headache is trying to come back, so I think I'll just say "YAAAAAAYYYY" without moving my head at all, or even making very much noise. :)

What's going on in your life this week?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments here or on Facebook!

***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you! 
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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  
Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  
If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  
You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 

Linking up with the Simple Woman's Daybook. Thanks to Peggy for hosting!
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6.29.2014

Pew Ponderings: Placing Ourselves Deeply







From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
~Ephesians 4:16 


Ephesians 4 is just one of those super-meaty chapters that you could spend months delving into and still have more depths to plumb.  It covers topics such as our calling in Christ, heart attitudes, unity in the body, salvation and grace, the importance of sound doctrine, putting off sin and being made a new creature, wholesome talk, grieving the Holy Spirit, and our behavior toward one another.

Whew!  Much to chew on there!

Verse 16 compares the church to the body, and says that just as the body is connected by "every supporting ligament", so the body of Christ is joined together.  The body grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.  What a picture!

Spiritual growth doesn't happen in a vacuum.  I've been doing research lately on physical fitness and weight training. One of the important things to remember when weight training is to work the body evenly.  If you work certain parts of the body and not others, you end up with all kinds of problems!  Not every member of a church body is going to grow at exactly the same pace, but ideally, we should all be growing together.
 
Last Sunday I introduced a new Sunday series, Pew Ponderings, as well as the book on which I'll be basing the next few posts, Love Me With Tough Love, by Anne Ortlund. Anne opens chapter one by explaining the three priorities her husband led their church to adopt:

1. to put God first, individually and as a church,
2. to put each other in God's family second in priority, and 
3. to put the needy world third.

(We'll look at those priorities themselves in more depth in a later post.)
 
She shares some of the "together" memories from their church body over the years, living by these priorities, and then asks,


Have you got a headful of "together" memories? Christians all around you are waiting for your input, lonely for your love, hungry for what you know about Christ that they don't yet know.

I am blessed to have a headful of those memories.  I could do a whole post (or a whole series of posts!) on those memories. I started to add a few here, and then realized I couldn't begin to limit it to just a few. Maybe someday!

Next Anne shares a list of 13 ways the New Testament tells us to communicate with each other as Christian believers.  I'd love to do a printable of these to keep close by always! They'd make a great Bible Study. Or maybe a blog series someday. :)   Here's the list:

1. Suffering together: 1 Corinthians 12:26
2. Rejoicing together: Romans 12:15
3. Carrying each others' burdens: Galatians 6:2
4. Restoring each other: Galatians 6:1
5. Praying for one another: Romans 15:30
6. Teaching and admonishing one another: Colossians 3:16
7. Refreshing one another: Romans 15:32
8. Encouraging one another: Romans 1:12
9. Forgiving one another: Ephesians 4:32
10. Confessing to one another: James 5:16
11. Being truthful with one another: Ephesians 4:25
12. Spurring one another on toward good deeds: Hebrews 10:24
13. Giving to one another: Philippians 4:14-15

As you read this list, do faces and memories pop into your mind?  Some bring back more "together" memories than others for me, but all bring back at least a few.  They are also quite convicting to me!  Am I communicating in each of these ways with those around me: my family, my friends, my church family? Not just the ones that come more easily to me, but all of them? 

Anne wrote this at the bottom of her list:

"Have I placed myself so deeply within a living, functioning local body that I myself am functioning in all these ways, and so living as a well-rounded, healthy, contributing member of the body of Christ?" 

Let's look at that for just a minute.

1.Have I placed myself deeply within a living, functioning local body? There's a lot to consider right there!  First, am I in a local body?  Not watching services online, not a group meeting together watching some far-away preacher by satellite, but a local body with an onsite preacher who preaches the truth of the word and a church family who holds each other accountable and ministers to each others' needs.

Second, and going right along with the first, is it a living, functional body?  Does the pastor truly preach the truth of the Word? Is he a true under-shepherd of the flock? Does the body truly function as a body, worshiping together, fellowshipping together, praying for one another, and ministering to one another's needs? More on those topics later, but this part's important!

Third, have I placed myself deeply within that body?  This is more than just sporadic attendance or even showing up for worship on Sunday morning.  This is digging deep, loving hard, and being transparent.

2. Am I myself functioning in all these ways, and so living as a well-rounded, healthy, contributing member of the Body of Christ? 

We need to be in a living, functioning (not perfect!!) local body, and we need to be assessing constantly if we are functioning in these 13 ways within that body.  It's easy for us to see where others may not be functioning in those ways toward us, but a bit harder sometimes to assess how we are (or aren't!) functioning in those ways toward others. (Very often, when we are living those things out toward others, we'll see more and more of others living them out toward us!)  I have a long way to go in many of those areas.

As Anne says, "You have to 'place yourself deeply' within a living, functioning local body to begin to give and take at deep levels."

Anne talks about making sure you are in a living, functional body to begin with, and then adds,

"On the other hand, don't be too proud or too shy or too preoccupied to receive life when it's there! Or perhaps it's truly there, but undisclosed.  Many church people are like that alabaster vase of perfume in Mark 14:3. They have the true  Gospel of Christ in their hearts; they're full of potential; but they're tight and closed up, not knowing how to love each other.  

We need to learn to love!" 
I'm actually only halfway through the first chapter, but that's a lot to ponder (and hopefully act on!) for one post.  We need to learn to love.  We need to learn to minister to others, and we need to learn to allow others to minister to us.  Both can be hard at times! We need to learn to be discipled, and to disciple others.  

More on all those topics in posts to come! In the meantime, what are your thoughts on today's post?  Are you in a living, functioning local body?  If not, do you need help finding one?  If so, have you "placed yourself deeply"?  Do you have "together" memories? Are you functioning in those 13 ways within the body? 

I'd love to hear about any or all of those things either in the comments below or on Facebook, or via the contact box in the sidebar.  

***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you! 

***
  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  

Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  
If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  
You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.