My 30-day TV fast, day 30(ish)

[For those of you who care about things like this, the thirteenth was day 30 of my TV fast, but I’m writing this on the twelfth and publishing it on the fourteenth.  So, I guess I’m writing this in the past (when you read it), but it is about future events (when I write it).  I’m so sci-fi.]

There isn’t really much to report about my TV fast.  It was pretty low impact, except that I missed the start of the NFL season, but at least my Lions and my hubby’s Packers both won (yes, I’m a Lions’ fan, is that a problem?  No?  Good).  I didn’t miss it much, except when my kids were sick and kind of snuggly and I couldn’t cuddle up with them and watch a movie.  I might even try to convince my hubby to sell the TV.  We’ll see.

Anyway, since it had so little impact, I am acknowledging that it was kind of a cop-out.  What I really should have done is an internet fast.  That is where I waste the most time these days.  And that’s why I’m writing this post before my 30 days is really up.  We are going to Colorado to determine where we want to live when we move (what neighborhood, or rather, what neighborhoods we don’t want to live in) and we leave tomorrow (or yesterday by the time you read this).  I think, though, I am going to do a 30 day internet fast beginning the fourteenth (today).  I haven’t determined the rules yet, but I still have two more days to do that (it will probably involve at least getting online once a day or so to clear out my email inbox).

The point is this: I’m going to use that time to determine if I want to keep blogging or not.  I feel like this whole thing has taken a turn that I never really intended.  I just want to evaluate why I do it, what my goal of blogging is, how much time I want to invest, etc.  If I determine that I want to keep blogging, I’ll launch my new blog when my 30 days are up.  If I decide not to continue, I’ll let you know then.

[As an aside, I get, like, at least 100 new posts in my feed reader a day, so I’m not going to be able to read everything when my 30 days are up.  So, if you are reading this and you write something really cool between now and October 14th, please leave a link to it in the comments of this post.  Otherwise I probably won’t read it.]

What does this really mean?

1 Corinthians 14:33-34 (AMP)–For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people), the women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.

So, I have mentioned before how I did not grow up a Christian.  I was a pretty independent young woman with certain ideas about how the world worked (or how it should work).  I had a lot of feminist and liberal leanings, which I won’t go into detail on.  Suffice it to say that I thought that I was just as good, just as smart (usually smarter), just as capable as any man and I was never going to subject myself to anyone, but especially not a man.

I took this idea of not being “womanly” (read: weak) further than I should have.  I didn’t like girls.  I didn’t like doing the things that girls did (cooking, sewing, crafting, caring for children, etc.).  I wasn’t going to follow “the rules.”  I was never going to get married, have children, become domestic.

Well, I’ve obviously changed my mind about most of those things.  I am married with two children.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  I love to cook.  I own a sewing machine (although, I’m still working on learning how to use it).  I do lots of things that I never thought I would ever do and I am exceptionally happy doing them (most of them . . . cleaning house still isn’t one of my favorite things).

So, having said all of that, let’s talk about this passage in 1 Corinthians.  I accept that it is a part of the Bible and I submit to God’s Word.  I have no problem with the fact that it is there, but I do take issue with the way that a lot of people interpret it BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE WITH THE REST OF THE BIBLE.  Let me explain.

The Fundamentalist take on this passage: women shouldn’t have authority over men in any aspect of church life (and sometimes in other aspects of life).  They cannot be pastors, teachers (except to children or other women), leaders (prayer leaders, worship leaders, deacons or elders, ministry leaders that would place them in authority over men), and many other things.  Women can be leaders only when men are not involved.  Their husbands can be leaders and they can influence the church only through their husbands.  This is a very literal interpretation of this passage, which is the way that Fundamentalists interpret the Bible: literally.

The Liberal take on this passage: women can do anything in the church.  This passage applies specifically to the Corinthian church at that time and discusses cultural issues that arose in that specific church.  The part of this passage that still applies today is the part speaking about orderly worship (because that is the context).

[An aside: I have no problem with submitting to my husband.  I also don’t have a problem with women not being pastors or elders.  My issue is where people decide to draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable for women to do.  It just seems so arbitrary at times.  But, I digress.]

I think they both miss the mark.  I’m pretty moderate, so, naturally, my take on it is somewhere in between.  I’m not saying that I’m right (I’m no expert), but I think that in order to accept either of these extreme interpretations you have to ignore a lot of what the Bible says about the matter.

Where Fundamentalists miss the mark is in their failure to recognize the examples in the Old and New Testaments of women taking on these and other roles that they deny women today.  The Amplified Bible footnote for Judges 4:4 has this to say about the Judge and Prophet Deborah:

According to Num. 11:25, the prophetic gift has its source in the “Spirit of the Lord.” The prophet is a spokesman of God and for God. Miriam was the first prophetess who praised God before all the people (Exod. 15:20). Deborah was not like Miriam, the sister of such men as Moses and Aaron. The objective Spirit of her God elevates her above her people, above heroes before and after her. Not only the ecstasy of enthusiasm, but also the calm wisdom of that Spirit Who informs the law dwells in her. Of no judge until Samuel [the last of the major judges] is it expressly said that he was a “prophet.” Of none until him can it be said that he was possessed of the popular authority necessary for the office of judge. The position of Deborah in Israel is therefore a twofold testimony: it proves the relaxation of spiritual and manly energy, and, secondly, the undying might of divine truth, as delivered by Moses, comes brilliantly to view. History shows many instances where in times of distress, when men despaired, women arose and saved their nation; but in all such cases there must be an unextinguished spark of the old fire in the people themselves. Israel, formerly encouraged by the great exploit of a left-handed man–Ehud (Judg. 3:15), is now quickened by the glowing word of a noble woman (J.P. Lange, A Commentary).

If women in Biblical times could be prophetessess, deaconesses, doorkeepers, and hold other positions in the temple and the churches, I find it hard to accept that they cannot do the same today.  But, before you get too upset with me . . .

Where Liberals miss the mark is in their insistence that men and women are the same.  They were created different, a fact that we cannot ignore.  Even science can’t ignore the fact that men and women are different (recent studies including this one have shown sex specific differences in the brain transmitted through epigenetic mechanisms).  Women have never been priests or elders, which (I believe) translates to women not being pastors or elders in the modern church.

I don’t want to be accused of ignoring passages like 1 Corinthians 11:3-12 and 1 Timothy 2:11 that point out how men and women are different and should worship differently.  I acknowledge that men and women are different.  I fully accept that there are reasons for women not taking on the role of pastor or elder, but I cannot accept that God doesn’t want women to share the gifts that He gave us.  Some women are gifted musically, in teaching, leadership, administration, and many other areas.  They should use those gifts to edify the body of Christ.

There is a lot more that I could say on this topic, but I’ll just leave it there for now.  PLEASE, feel free to disagree with me.  Like I said before, I don’t have all the answers.

So, what do you think?

I’ll bear your burdens, if…

Sorry I’ve been curiously absent lately.  It isn’t because God isn’t speaking to me, but because I don’t really know how to share the things that He has been speaking to me about.  I mean, I think there are things that I need to write about, but I need to do it without being a jerk.  God has been teaching me some things about myself and about how He builds His church.  Really interesting stuff.  So, here goes.

Galatians 6:2–Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].

Romans 12:15–Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].

I’ve never really thought of myself as a particularly sensitive person.  Not that I don’t get hurt easily, because I do, but that I don’t really empathize well.  Most of the reason for that is the fact that I don’t tolerate stupidity well.  People who bring bad things on themselves by their poor decisions get very little sympathy from me.

I’ve only recently noticed (although, in talking to my hubby about it, apparently it is obvious to him and maybe everybody else), that I am in fact a very empathetic person.  The only thing is I only empathize with people I care deeply about.  I think, however, that there is more to it than just feeling the pain of those that I love.  Because sometimes I can be really hard with those people, too.  So, what is the thing that determines if I feel your pain or not?  The answer surprised me a little bit.

You see, the same people whose decisions I look at with scorn and anger are the ones that I weep with and whose burdens I bear at other times.  The difference between the two responses is this: the individual’s willingness to accept responsibility for their situation.  If somebody’s pain is due to circumstances out of their control, then I feel for them if they are somebody close to me or not.  If they are the reason that they are suffering (by making poor decisions), then I usually just get angry about their decisions (even to the point that I don’t listen when they are complaining about their pain), unless they admit it is their own fault.  If they admit it is at least partly their own fault, then my heart gets the okay from my brain to hurt for them.

It isn’t a conscious decision.  I don’t look at somebody’s situation and say, “they meet my empathy criteria.”  It’s just a pattern that I can see when I look at my life and my interactions with those people in my life who are suffering.  I’m not saying that it is right.  I’m also not saying that it is wrong.  I’m just saying that is how it is.

So, take that for what it is: a glimpse at my inner workings.  If I have ever seemed like I didn’t care when things were not going well for you, it might be because of this filter that I’m only now discovering that I have.  It is also probably because of this filter that I find it hard to share my burdens with others (if I have a filter like this, others might, too).

Do you have these kinds of filters through which you view the people around you?  What are your thoughts?

Does that include myself?

I’m just not feelin’ it lately.  I don’t know what my problem is.  I have a million ideas for blog posts these days, but I don’t think I could get away with any of them (they are all either preachy or potentially offensive).  I will just share what came up today during my daily Bible reading and hopefully it won’t turn anybody off.

1 Corinthians 5:11–But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.

I could get into how these people (those who call themselves Christian, but don’t live it) really anger me, but I’ve done that before.  But instead, I’m going to approach it from a different direction.  You see, I read this list and think, “I might not be guilty of all of these things, but I am guilty of some of them.  Immorality, check.  Greed, check.  Idolatry, check.  Foul tongue, check.  Drunkard, check.  Swindler, check.  Robber, check.  Oh, I guess that’s all of them.  So, should I not eat with myself?”

Okay, admittedly I’m being a little harsh on myself.  At least the last three have not been an issue since I became a Christian.  The truth, though, is that I am still a sinner.  Paul goes on in this passage to say that we shouldn’t judge those outside the church (that is for God to do), but that we should judge those who claim to be Christians and should discipline them accordingly.

How, though, can we do this justly?  Jesus says that whatever measure we use, that is the measure that will be used against us.  What measure could I possibly use to judge other believers that would not make me a hypocrite?  The only just measure is God’s Word.  I cannot judge a person according to the world, nor can I judge them by each other.  The only perfect measure is Jesus Christ; and, let’s face it, next to Him we all fall short.

I feel like whenever I try to do this I am a total hypocrite.  I’m not perfect, so how can I expect anybody else to be?  How can I expect others to uphold God’s perfect standard in their lives when I can’t do so in my own?  Praise God that He died on the cross for me.  Otherwise, I would be headed straight for the lake of fire.

So, I guess there’s the question of the day: How do you live out this verse without seeming like a hypocrite?

My 30-Day TV Fast: Day 1

So, I’m finally getting serious about getting the distractions out of my life, like I talked about here.  Today begins my 30-day experiment.  To be fair, I’m not sure how much going TV-free will effect me, since I don’t actually watch that much TV.  I do, however, usually have it on, which is just ridiculous.  There’s no reason to have a TV on for noise,  I have Spotify.  I also have NPR and two kids to occupy my time (though, the kids don’t always occupy my mind, just my time).

Here are the rules that I have set for myself during the next 30 days.  I don’t think these are the rules that everyone would necessarily have for their own TV-free journey, but to make sure it actually has an impact on me, I had to add something more to it than just, “no TV.”

1. No TV.  Not for me or the kids.  I’m sure they don’t understand this, since they are one and three, but they are with me most of the time, so they can’t watch TV if I can’t.  That is, not if I’m around.  Maybe if they are hanging with their dad while I’m pulling weeds in the front yard or something, then they can watch TV if he wants to.  I’m sure it’ll be interesting when football season starts, since my 30 days ends Sept. 13th and the regular season starts with the Packers (my hubby’s team) at home on Sept. 8th.

2. No streaming, either.  No Hulu.  No Netflix on the Wii or online.  Maybe I’ll make an exception for the 1 minute YouTube videos people post on Facebook.

3. No DVDs or Blu-ray discs.  I have to make this rule (along with the previous one) because I know myself too well.  I know that if I can’t watch TV and I don’t make a statement outright about these other things, then I will just watch something else all day.  Most people can probably just say no TV and get by with just watching one episode of the X-files in the evening, but I need to make a clean break.

4. If things are going well after two weeks, then I might relax rules 2 and 3 a little.  I’m not saying that I will, I’m just giving myself the option of picking up that one episode of the X-files in the evening if I’m doing well the rest of the time.  It’ll depend on how things are going and if I want to do it.  Honestly, there might be some other things going on that will keep me busy enough that I won’t even miss it, so I might not even notice when those two weeks are over.

The whole point of this is to give more attention to my kids, my husband, my household, my God.  I’m planning to read some books that I’ve been ignoring: Love and Respect, Boys Should Be Boys (re-read), Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls.  That’s a pretty short list, but I don’t want to take up all my time with reading.  The biggest key to my success will be finding something for my son to do, so if you have ideas for a bright, active 3-year-old, I’m all ears.

[Disclaimer: Starting on a Monday is kind of a cop out for me, since it’s grocery day, so the whole morning is occupied with planning the grocery shopping and then going, then putting away the groceries, well, you know.  Anyway, I just needed to put that out there.  I was going to start yesterday, but I had a Netflix movie that I only watched half of on Saturday and I didn’t want to wait a whole month to finish it because it was pretty good.  So, there it is.  I’m weak, but today is a new day.]

What am I passionate about?

It’s a question I ask myself (and my hubby) pretty frequently.  The specifics sometimes change, but there are some themes that I’m starting to see more clearly.  So, in no particular order:

1.  Integrity.  Be the person you say you are.  I care deeply about consistency and am frequently disappointed by others who are inconsistent.  I’m also frequently disappointed when I, myself, am inconsistent.  It’s important to me, though, which is why sometimes people upset me when they claim to be something, but act differently.  No matter what you say you are, your actions tell the real story.

2.  Marriage.  I love my husband.  I love us as a couple.  Our marriage has gone through a lot of changes (because we have both changed a lot in nine years) and it is better now than it has ever been.  However, I have seen marriages destroyed by selfishness and pride, by infidelity, by poor money management, by disrespect and a lack of love, and by reasons that I have yet to figure out (it’s not my business if people don’t want to tell me what happened).  I have also seen couples fight for their marriages through all of those same situations and come out stronger on the other side.  My marriage is important to me and I make working on it a priority.

3.  Money management.  My husband and I have been debt-free (except for our mortgage) for about four years now.  I cannot tell you how much getting out of debt improved, not just our quality of life, but our outlook on life.  The recent recession didn’t cause us to panic because we knew we would come out okay.  We have everything we need and are able to give freely.  I’m not boasting.  I wish that everybody had the tools that we have to be in the same financial situation.  (Incidentally, if you don’t have Financial Peace, check out this website and take the class.  It will change your life.)  I also love getting good deals, which is somewhat related to managing money.  I hope to someday pay off our mortgage.

4.  Giving and serving.  I think I’ve mentioned before how I want to give out of the overflow of my heart.  I grew up giving back to my community (city clean-up day, volunteering at the library, raising money for Children’s Miracle Network or Jerry’s Kids, the list could go on) and it just seems natural to me.  Since I became a Christian I have wanted to give to the community and the Body of Christ.  I am not able to serve in every area that I desire to (because as a mom of two young kids my hands are busy a lot of the time), but I am always finding new ways to serve.  Others might never know what I do, because I tend to stay behind the scenes whenever I can, but that isn’t why I do it.  I give because I can, and I love because He first loved me.

5.  Learning.  I love learning.  I didn’t love school growing up, but that was because I felt like I was being held back (I wasn’t being challenged and eventually got to be a lazy student because of it).  I pick up new hobbies a lot (things I have done for six months and then dropped: snowboarding, running, knitting, piano, guitar, blogging…oops, luckily that one came back) because I like learning new things.  I have tried different diets because learning how to eat in a new way is a challenge (I’ve gone from vegetarian to no-starch and back again).  I am currently learning how to get better at home management (check out this blog for tips, or read Proverbs 31).  Anybody who knows me personally knows that I am not the best housekeeper, so it’s a good area for me to work on.

6.  The Truth.  Living in Utah, I have had to really know my stuff when it comes to the Bible.  I have to know how it is different from what my LDS neighbors believe.  I have a strong desire to make sure that people know the Truth and that it doesn’t come from the LDS Church.  I also get offended when Christian Churches water down the gospel because that means they aren’t preaching the Truth, either.  I wish that everybody could have the same relationship with God that I have and know that the only way to do that is to come to grips with the fact that we are all sinners and deserve Hell; but, thanks to God and the work that Jesus did on the Cross for me, I don’t have to go to Hell, but can be with Him in Heaven.  Nothing I (or you) do could ever get me to Heaven, only what Jesus already did for me could get me there.  And that is the Truth (in a nutshell, but check this out for a better overview of the gospel).

Okay, I know that there are probably more things to add to this list, but I am going to leave it at that for now.  I wanted to make this list for myself, because I think it is a good exercise to think through the things that really get you excited every once in a while so that you can make sure you are being true to yourself (#1).  I also wanted to do this for accountability.  I want to make sure that I touch on all of the things that are important to me here.  I spend a lot of time on #1, #6, and possibly #4, but I want to make sure that all of me is represented here.  I think that part of the purpose for this blog is to be as transparent as possible, but I can’t do that without talking about these other important aspects of my life.  So, look for more on #2, #3, and #5 in the future.

There’s a fine line . . .

. . . between righteous indignation and spiritual pride, a line that I might have crossed. Sorry I’ve had so many angry posts lately.  It’s hard to admit that I have weaknesses (wait, let me get my tongue out of my cheek), but anger is definitely one of them.  Praise God that He can use imperfect vessels.

So, instead of railing on somebody or dwelling on my failures today, here’s some encouragement from the Word.

1 Chronicles 16:34–Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

John 10:11,14–I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

Matthew 11:28-30–Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Philippians 1:6–being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17–Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Psalm 33:18-20–Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.

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