Sister to Sister: Holiness Is not a “Happening” Thing

unnamedHave you got your 2016 calendar yet? Most of you probably have had it ever since you got your smart phone. I’m old, so I have to still have that pretty one hanging in the kitchen, too.  But however you mark time, mark this! If you have or know a teenage girl and you live anywhere in traveling distance, you need to make plans to get your girls to Pulaski, Tennessee on this day. This is one road trip that will be worth the taking.

It’s January 30, 2016. It’s free and it’s all about protecting purity for the richest lives in Jesus that your daughters can possibly know. It’s about their future marriages…decisions they can make now that will make their “later” a whole lot better. Here are some specifics that you will want to know.

The location is Fairview Church in Pulaski, TN. There is no charge for any part of the program and there is even a free T-shirt for those who register by January 1st. (And, yes!…the shirts are for adults, too). All women who have any influence over any young girls (that’s all of us) are encouraged to come. There will be free housing for out-of-town guests. You can register for this housing, as well as for the event itself,  by emailing purityday@yahoo.com or by calling 931-309-8482. Breakfast and lunch will be served free of charge and childcare for young ones will be available. There will even be an activity for the younger girls during the most sensitive portion of the program about sexual purity.

The speaker for the day is Courtney Ruiz. I have heard her speak and you will not be disappointed.

Lesson titles and topics are as follows:

BeYOUtiful For Him!

1.Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (The Best Kind of Beauty)

2. Daughter of the King (To Whom Do You Belong?)

3. White as Snow (Sexual Purity and Modesty)

4. Is Your Apple Poisonous? (Dealing with Social Media)

I cannot take the time and space to extensively promote lots of programs at various congregations because our sisterhood is so rich with faith-building events. But this is one event in which I have been involved and for which I have a passion. It’s the kind of one-day event that can make a big difference in lots of days, in lots of lives. I’ve seen the fruits of such programs in specific lives, decisions and marriages.

One more thing: At the risk of being negative, I want to make this observation. I have seen far too many moms hoping their daughters will be chosen for homecoming court or MVP on the softball team, while giving little thought or attention to spiritual “extra-curriculars” like this upcoming purity day. It’s great when our daughters can excel in their wholesome pursuits in sports and at school. But if they find the greatest acclaim in multiple pursuits and lose their purity and ultimately their souls, all the trophies, positions, scholarships and friends in the world cannot begin to compare with the value of the lost commodity. It is extremely often that I hear a mother say, “I just don’t know what happened. Our daughter has left the Lord and our grandchildren do not even attend worship anywhere.”

That’s just the thing. What “happens” is that our children leave the Lord. That “happens” without much effort, with little thought, with minuscule planning. But faithfulness is not what “happens”. Purity never just “happens”. Holiness takes determination, work, teaching, traveling, planning and, especially during the teen years, it takes parental grit. Heaven doesn’t just “happen”.

You don’t HAVE to be at this day to put purity in the heart of your daughter. But you HAVE to be doing something. You have to have a plan. This day is a planning tool for those who can come!

Sister to Sister: I’m Old…So Here! (Part 3)

11057335_10152618923116384_8647455845390333819_nSuggestion three is not easy to say. In fact, its implementation is a struggle for this older woman. But I believe it might be the most practical of any suggestion in 2015 for millennials who want to be keepers–guardians  and protectors of–the home. I’m not a millennial. (Does that mean I am a pre-millennial? Not in the theological sense, but, yes–in the “older woman” sense.) But I know lots of them and I love the way that so many of them are coming back home–to its values, its oh-so-important roles, its traditions. So today, let’s think about something small, relatively new and pretty powerful in terms of relationships in the home.

It fits in the pocket of your purse or sometimes even in a very large pocketed keychain. It’s only a few centimeters in both length and width. In fact, its smallness is one of its biggest selling points. But in that tiny pocket package there is power to destroy relationships. The devil can fit in a package even that tiny, if you let him. You know what the package is. It’s your cell phone—your mobile device.

I heard about a pre-schooler the other day who was asked the question, “What’s the most important thing in the world to your mommy?” Without batting an eye, the sweet little girl responded “Her phone.” Sometimes the answer must be just that obvious to our kids. We keep it with us at all times. We protect it from the elements. (I actually know a man who, while cleaning the swimming pool, was accidentally falling into the water. This man had the prudence and presence of mind to reach into the pocket of his shorts and toss his cell phone onto the concrete, mid-fall! The phone was salvaged.)  We make monthly payments for its use and we check on it multiple times throughout our days.

But I know many homes in which the devil, through that little flat rectangular disc, is doing great damage. Here are a few ways he works through your device:

  1. He makes you fail to “redeem the time”. Sometimes our houses are dirty and/or cluttered, we are behind on the laundry, the cat litter box is a mess, the beds are unmade and we are running late to worship. We fail to study our Bibles daily, but we have scrolled through our news feeds, taken time to post a picture or status and, oh, if only our houses looked like our pins! (Don’t think for a moment that this is personally directed at anyone, because I write, first, to improve my own time redemptive habits.)
  2. The devil makes you overspend. It’s so much easier to buy things when there’s no getting out of your pajamas, no “store hours” to fit into your schedule, no face-to-face exchange of money, no paper trail and SO MUCH (literally, the whole world of retail) from which to choose.
  3. He makes you fail to see needs around you. You are focused on the needs that are far away…a child on CNN who is lost in the Rockies, a ten car pile-up on I-65, a federal financial crisis, or a politician who has misspoken. All the while, you are failing to see the things you can personally fix, or at the very least, affect…the child who is losing his way spiritually—YOUR child…the “pile-up” that’s in your closet, your playroom or your laundry room or, even worse, the emotional pile-up that has accumulated between you and your sister in Christ…the financial crisis that has occurred in your own checking account or with the plastic in your wallet…the words misspoken around your own breakfast table, or the words of encouragement that went unspoken as you scrolled through distant statuses and pithy postings of strangers. Sometimes, we just become very far-sighted in the presence of our devices and the things we could positively affect remain unaffected. And when we fail to do good, it is sin (James 4:17).
  4. The devil tempts us through the lust of the eyes and flesh (I John 2:16). With the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, most of which is readily available on your device, not to mention the appeal of the world through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, he is having a heyday in the lives of the people who are supposed to be sanctified. If you cannot see this as a personal affront of the devil—an affront of which you need to constantly beware—then you are not astute enough to be mentally responsible before God.
  5. The devil is working to addict (enslave) the people of God. Anything that I can’t lay aside for  His purposes, whatever His purpose may be at any given time, is an addiction. Many people I know are addicted to cell phone use. They cannot lay the devices aside for more important things, even temporarily.
  6. The most tragic thing the devil might be doing through your mobile device is destroying your relationship with your spouse. The command for wives in Titus 2 is to love (phileo) our husbands. “Phileo” is friendship love. We are commanded to be best friends with our husbands. Our husbands are commanded to dwell with us according to knowledge, giving us honor. We are missing out on some pretty basic and important relationship builders when we are phone or i-pad addicted. We miss smiles and winks. We miss opportunities to pick up a dropped fork or a broken spirit. We miss conversations that result in sexual intimacy or answers to life’s dilemmas. We miss the “look” of utter dependence that might have made us more clearly see the importance of what we are doing in the home or, in the case of husbands, on the job. We, thus, miss confidence milestones and esteem builders. We miss opportunities to show gratitude. We are absent in the “moments” of life and love. We become deficient in our communication skills because it’s easier to “stalk” than talk; easier to feed curiosity than character; easier to maintain internet navigation than interpersonal communication. So we slowly erode relationships. We do what is easy and neglect what is rewarding. It is a self-centered way to watch our marriages die. And, when the devil succeeds, through the tiny box, in this erosion, he can get his tentacles on so much more—your purpose, your skills of submission or your husband’s leadership abilities, and even the generations that will eventually come from your home.

Are you wondering if the devil may be “stalking” you through your device. Ask yourself some simple questions:

  1. Are there days when the “basics” of home are missing some components—like hot meals, clean clothes in the closet, or clean forks in the drawer…but the facebook posts have been read and you’ve caught up on Instagram notifications? (Maybe I should get up this very moment and do something else and not even post this!)
  2. If you check back on your eBay or Amazon (or other retail) history, do you find that you are spending more than you thought on impulse on-line purchases? Do your kids or grandkids already have more than they need to wear (or play with) and more keeps popping up in your mailbox? Do you have so many clothes (or shoes or purses or baby carriers) that you never wear any of them out and you keep searching the web for more? (I talk to myself. Do you?)
  3. I know you use your Facebook to encourage others, but, if you read Matthew 25, do you find  yourself failing to do most of the “judgement-day-requisites” listed in verses 33-46 in real relationships with those in your congregation, while you find time somehow to shop, pin, post and “catch up” with people you seldom see?
  4. Do you find yourself taking your device to the bathroom with you or locking the door of your office while perusing the web or quickly shutting down pages when someone walks into the room?
  5. If you challenged yourself to do without your mobile devices for one full day except to answer incoming voice calls, would you have a difficult time doing that? Is it hard for you to commit to that test?
  6. Do you have your phone with you at the dinner table?
  7. Do you text others as you ride along with your spouse in the car?
  8. Do you text while driving?
  9. Has your spouse ever mentioned  to you that he wishes you would not be on your phone while with him?
  10. Do you communicate with someone  of the opposite sex online about matters that are sensitive, personal or even sexual in nature?
  11. Do you “talk” with someone of the opposite sex online…a friendly communicative relationship of which your spouse is unaware?
  12. Do you keep surfing or communicating online at night after your spouse goes to sleep?
  13. Do you find yourself very often finishing a line of text or reading a post before going to see about a crying baby or answering child who is calling you? Or do you always look at your phone while rocking your baby or watching a movie or ballgame with your children or family?
  14. Have you ever parted from your spouse and failed to kiss him goodbye because you were involved on your device?
  15. Are you withholding any passwords or devices from full spousal awareness and accountability?

imagesIf one or more of the answers to the above questions is “yes” for me, then I need to examine that area of my life and consider changes. I might be using my phone to communicate while failing in the most important communication of all. If several of the answers is “yes”, then I should beware. The devil may be trying to connect with me online. If I accept him as a friend, I will complicate my life and endanger my eternity. He is constantly posting, sharing, tweeting and texting. He is very tech savvy and extremely “social”.  I must be sure that I own my i-phone rather than allowing it to own me. Because the devil knows my number.

Sister to Sister: Fifty Shades: Five Excuses…Ten Reasons

Unknown-7Shocking is what it is to absorb the conversations among some of those who wear the name of Christ…women who see nothing wrong with being entertained by the erotica fiction of the 2011 romance novel and the new movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I do not have to read the books or see the movies to know that Christian women have no business anywhere near the “Grey” zone. Here are five of the top excuses for partaking in the evil of a blatantly pornographic form of entertainment:

  1. “It’s literature…a literary phenomenon.” Yes. It is. The original book has sold over 100 million copies, making in excess of 95 million dollars for the author. A sad commentary on our culture.
  2. “Just because I watch it doesn’t mean it will affect my behavior or my thinking.” Studies have already been done. One at Michigan State University found that women who have read the book are more likely to have abusive partners, be binge drinkers, and participate in unsafe sex, and eating disorders. I’m not sure if women who do these things are more likely to love the movie or the other way around. But, either way, the study results, in themselves, wave a big red flag to people of morality. It’s like the Good Book says: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
  3. “I’m just curious.” You could follow the link below if you’re curious about the content. My friend, Tom Holland used to say “You don’t have to stick your head in a trash can to know what trash is.” You will, for the sake of curiosity, put some images in your head that are not erasable.
  4. “I want to make our sex life better.” Would you like for your husband to work to make your sex life better by watching pornographic videos? Perhaps he does. If so, how does that feel to you? Besides, pornography does not enhance sex in the long run. It destroys relationships and cheapens what God has sanctified. The trump card is that it’s a clear violation of God’s commands. (Matthew 5:28; Titus 2:3-5)
  5. “It’s fun.” At least you’re being honest on this one. Sin is selfishly pleasurable in the short term. Satan loves this reason and, truth be told, it’s probably the reason we make up all the other excuses to sin.

And here are ten of the top reasons you should stay away from “Fifty Shades.”

  1. BDSM. If you do not know what that is, you may be fortunate. It is “Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, Masechism, all of which are strong thematic elements in the movie. It is a portrayal of a perverted attraction to an extremely sexually abusive man who keeps Ana, the main female character, in sexual bondage using abuse, expensive gifts and confidentiality agreements.
  2. Your money. Do you really want your movie/book dollars to be included in the 95 million-plus that E.L. James has made/is making from her self termed “expression of a mid-life crisis”? Do you think God is pleased with that sort of stewardship?
  3. Christ is coming back. Do you want to be reading/watching “Fifty Shades of Grey” when He does return? And, if not, then are you okay with Him seeing you read/watch from His seat beside the throne?
  4. Your children. This movie is phenomenally huge. The book, sadly, has become the #1 seller in the world. The book has also now surpassed Harry Potter as the fastest selling paper back. It became the first book ever to sell  more than a million copies on Amazon Kindle.  James was named by Forbes as the 2013 best selling author in the world. Your children, even if they are small or not yet born, will likely one day hear about this book and ask if you have read/seen “Fifty Shades”. Do you really want them to know that you have? If so, you are not the kind of parent I’d hope you want to be. You should love your children enough already to be protective of your influence over them. (Kids have a way of thinking that, no matter what it is, if Mom and Dad have done it, it must not be too bad.)
  5. The rating. The film has an R rating for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language. Christians cannot claim ignorance as they go to see “Fifty Shades.” We have been fairly warned. And when the movie industry puts out a rating because content will be offensive to some audiences, which audiences do you think those would be?…Christians, maybe?
  6. The woman who wrote the books (i.e. thought up the perversions of plot and sexuality) is also working as a producer of the movie. The movie promises not to be better or tamer than the book.
  7. The male lead in the movie, Jamie Dornan, actually visited a sex dungeon in preparation for his role as Christian Grey. Right. This is for Christians?!
  8. Producers are also planning a release of an NC-17 version of the movie, which will include more of the sexual content. (hard to believe there could be more.) They are doing it because   “the fans want it dirty.” Do you want to be a part of such a fan base?
  9. Evangelism: Do you believe, should your lost friends know about your viewing of the movie, that it would enhance or damage your ability to bring them to a life of purity in Christ? Which?
  10. Scriptures. Commands. Just a couple, though numerous ones come to mind. Philippians 4:8 Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report. If anything is virtuous or worthy of praise, think on these things.” Imagine these words appearing at the bottom of the movie screen during a trailer of “Fifty Shades.” Would those words “fit” there? Would they, in any sense, be descriptive of this movie? What about I Thessalonians 5:22?—“Abstain from the very appearance of evil.”  This book…this movie, my sister friends, is evil come to your community.

Information obtained from www.covenanteyes.com/…/50-fast-factsfiftyshades-grey/.

Sister to Sister: Pornography Use = Fornication? (Recommended Reading from Christian Courier)

Woman-cryingSeveral times in the past few months, I’ve been asked to state my thinking on the popular (and really pretty recently contrived) idea that if my spouse has used pornography, then I am biblically free to divorce and remarry since Jesus said in Matthew 5:18 that a man who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart. So if my husband has been involved in the sin of lust, he is thus an adulterer, and I may, with God’s approval or sanction, divorce him and marry another.

I was answering this question yesterday with what I consider to be three valid objections to the idea that pornography use frees people from marriage vows and, as usual, I was struggling through the meticulous process of writing succinct sentences in a  logical  form.  I came upon this article by my brother, Wayne Jackson. He does not struggle with succinct sentences or logic. I want to recommend this for your reading today: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1371-is-lust-the-equivalent-of-fornication

When you are finished reading, gather your children or grandchildren close around you and, once again, put into their hearts the importance of finding faithful Christians–people whose hearts are ever tender toward the Word–for their husbands or wives. So many problems that Glenn and I encounter as we speak with couples could have been avoided if His people had been more serious about spiritual things and more selective in the dating and marriage process. It is specifically important that our girls make sure they are not making marriage vows to men who are involved in pornography. (I know that sometimes the problem begins after marriage, but very often it is a hidden problem through the teen years.  I also know that sometimes it is the wife who is the pornography user; but still, the problem is far more common among men.) It’s enslaving and tormenting. It regularly wrecks homes. It is adultery of the heart. But it is not the act of fornication of Matthew 19:9.

Got Boys? Make a New Year’s Resolution.

images-10Satan is trying so hard to turn your teen boy’s head and heart from the purposes you’ve diligently cultivated in him. He’s a teenager now. You don’t cuddle with him in your lap, read him stories or play Candy Land with him anymore. In fact, it seems there’s more “device-time” now than there is real parental communication going on in his world. So, what’s a mom to do? Do we really raise them for the first twelve years just to watch our relationships and influence slowly erode, making us virtual strangers in the same houses?

No!! You and your husband can foster a close bond with your teenage son. I see it happening all around me. It’s challenging because of what the devil is doing in your son’s world of school, peers, and media. But it is possible and it is eternally rewarding! I hope to include snippets throughout the coming year in this blog about ways we, as moms, can enable our sons on the path to holy living and godly leadership. For today, let me tell you about an upcoming day in Tennessee that’s worth your drive for a great and intentional beginning of a better 2015 for your son (or in the case of my correspondence this morning, your whole boys youth group!)…

Just this morning I got a text from a friend who works with youth in a small congregation…a group of kids who want to be active, have good hearts, but just cannot afford the large hotel-housed youth events that are doing much good these days.  I am going to suggest an event for your boys that will cost you nothing but gas to get there and may possibly even exceed (in individual hearts) the great good done at a mega-youth event. I say this because of the subject material and because I’m a little biased regarding the speaker.

If you have boys in your home or youth group, please consider the following. I can personally attest to the fact that, if your boys take to heart the material presented  from the Word on January 17th at Fairview and if they make the practical applications in their lives (applications that will be clearly taught in this short seminar), they will live the rest of their teen years in purity and become leaders in godly homes.

I’d pay a lot of money and drive a long way for that kind of training. But you don’t have to pay a lot! Free admission, free housing for out-of-town guests in Christian homes, free breakfast and lunch, and a free t-shirt?!  It’s like getting all the best things about an EU or a EYC or a CYC (or some other letters) without the cost that might be prohibitive. It’s also a great event for dads and sons to attend together. (Makes for some great family Bible time discussions later on.)

Your guys will hear about dating behavior, leadership skills, how to combat the temptations pornography presents in our world, and how to make spiritually healthy media choices. They will hear about the way real men choose women of faith and then how they treat those godly women.

So here’s the lowdown. Be sure and make your reservation within the next few days. The t shirt will be the least valuable thing your guys come away with, but still, they will want one!

Boys to Men:  Doing it God’s Way 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Time:  9 am to 2pm

Speaker: Glenn Colley

@ Fairview church of Christ, Pulaski, TN

1765 Industrial Loop Road, Pulaski, 38478

**Breakfast and Lunch provided

**Out of town housing available on a first come first serve basis.  We will do our very best to make sure everyone has a place to stay.

Also find us on FB.

Free T-shirts available if you pre-register by January 7, 2015

Link to register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TbcIZOd_1T1jmYLnqGlf8z0IXsNe31iTsgh040v5JA0/viewform

 

Boys to Men: Doing it God’s Way 2015 – Registration Form

docs.google.com

Sister to Sister: Somebody who Loves You Went to a Great Purity Day this Weekend (and all you can get is this beautiful t-shirt!)…

10584047_10152574935266894_8651465647007173461_nThe West Huntsville Purity Day this weekend was a roaring success. Thanks to Alissa Clarke and the GIFTS team for great planning and execution, the amazing WH women’s team for 2 super meal, the hoards of travelers who attended, the hostesses who housed them, and the well-prepared speaker, Hannah Giselbach. I am sure…really sure…that the day made an eternal difference. But it is important to note that it also made a difference in the happiness of future marriages that will transpire on time’s side of eternity. This event will occur again in the fall of 2018. That means if you have daughter who is now between the ages of 7 and 16, you need to be thinking ahead to that time. Next weekend, Hannah and I will be talking to moms and daughters at the Estes church in Henderson, Tennessee. Perhaps some of you may be able to be there. I’m sure the day is open to women of all ages. Hope to see you in beautiful West Tennessee. It will be Hannah’s last Saturday to speak before Baby G’s arrival (…did I mention that I am a grandmother?!), however she will also be speaking at Polishing the Pulpit in late August. Then I think she should take a recess, don’t you?

 

I’m going to try and share some of the most current parental snippets from the day in future Bless Your Heart posts. You will want to hear some of the apps of which moms need to be aware to protect our kids online as well as some reminders of our “due diligence” in preparing our children for the general tactics the devil has always used to pull our kids from sexual purity. Saturdays lessons made the moms at WH even more aware of the dangers of that lion and the matriarchal duty we have of building fences around the souls of our children.

 

And if you want a t-shirt, I have to say, these are among the prettiest I have ever seen! Go to http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/~/product/category=7007069&id=39322979 to order adult sizes. We will send them promptly. If you want youth size XS, S, M, or L, you need to email me at byhcontest@gmail.com and I will let you know within 14 days if we get enough orders to provide those. If we do, I will send those out with a bill. The price will likely be $10.00 for the youth sizes, too, if we do have a demand for those. They are super cute shirts and are made of durable, but soft fabric, just like the hearts of the sweet girls who designed them!

 

Hope to see you at Estes next Saturday. Read about the Estes day, “Lessons in Purity”  on my facebook page this week. You can facebook Carrie Dupree Sells from my friends list if you have questions. Let me know if you need an “invite” to the event page. Blessings!