Why read the Bible?

10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

– Isaiah 55:10-11

 

Translation? God’s word has power. It’s active. It achieves something. It produces fruit. Take that in for a moment.

If God’s word has power, then choose to read it, listen to it, weave it into your life so that you are never separated from it. And experience that power in full force.

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Struck down but not destroyed.

struck-down-but-not-destroyedYou know that awful feeling when you’ve done something wrong? That anxious guilt at the pit of your stomach? Or the nervousness of facing the consequences and not knowing how things will turn out?

We’ve all felt the weight of sin, regardless of whether we believe in God or not. Guilt and darkness and negativity – every human being is familiar with those things at some level.

We’ve all had those moments in life when everything feels impossible – when your shoulders are weighed down by the world in a way that feels worse than anything you’ve ever known. Or when you feel stuck in a cycle you desperately want to get out of but don’t know if you can. Some might say ‘it feels worse than death’.

Imagine choosing to take that feeling for someone else; for every single sin of every single person that ever walked this earth.

Jesus did that. A perfect and pure man took on every ounce of darkness, shame, guilt,  and hopelessness from all of us, onto himself.

Can we even begin to comprehend what that felt like? He experienced absolute separation from God, our Father- our connection to hope and peace and joy. His cry on the cross was raw anguish (Matthew 27:46)!

 

All for us.

All for love.

So that even when we feel like God isn’t there, He is.

So that we never have to be separated from God, if we don’t want to be.

So that we can be free from the shackles of everything dark.

 

The story we celebrate this Sunday is one of perfect love. A love of incredible sacrifice. A love that allows us to have victory, hope, and freedom no matter where we are in life, what we’ve done, or what situation we’re facing.

That feeling worse than death? It doesn’t have to be our reality. That’s what it means when we say that Jesus overcame death for us. That’s why we can say “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Stand on the promise of Jesus’ resurrection and know that you can trust in God’s victory in your life.

What is God’s answer?

There are times when I start to spiral out of control with my desire to know exactly what God’s will is. Even when I’ve gotten an answer, I want to know I heard God right. A friend once asked me what would make God’s will clear to me. What would tell me exactly what His answer was? I had no idea how to respond. I joked about wanting Him to write me a letter, but part of me was hoping something like that would actually happen.

Later in the day, I came across this article (Maybe God Doesn’t Care) and I was reminded that while there is no such thing as too much prayer, there is a danger in relentlessly pursuing a concrete answer. Why? Because it actually stems from a need to control; a desire to know exactly what is in store and when. Yes, we should submit to God and seek to do his will. However, we also need to trust in Him and his ability to direct us. We have to allow him to actually act and give him the reins. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of doubt and worry disguised as seeking his will.

Image taken from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6FYom8sr5L4/Ty1zdliEQyI/AAAAAAAAITE/3_vVk0I_VWQ/s1600/proverbs+3+5+6+copy.jpg

I wasn’t ready for marriage

For any of you who have thought about the “practicality” of living together or debated how ready you are for marriage, I think this post is a great reminder that you can’t control for everything. At some point, you have to take a risk and you just have to move forward. That’s not the “end all” answer for every situation, but I feel this post is a good reminder of what’s important.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I met my wife on eHarmony. I was a morning rock DJ in Delaware, she was living in Maryland and finishing up her degree. I drove two and a half hours to pick her up for our first date. I spent most of my bi-weekly paycheck on tickets to a dinner theater in Baltimore. The rest went to gas and tolls.

And that’s the way it would go for the next year and a half (minus the dinner theater part). Once a week, I’d spend money I didn’t have and drive the 260 mile roundtrip to see the love of my life. Sometimes I’d sleep for a few hours in the guest room at her mom’s house, waking up at 2AM to head back to the coast for my 5:30AM radio show.

I was very tired back then.

And broke.

Lord, was I broke.

She’d take turns driving my way, burning gas she couldn’t afford to burn and…

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What makes a marriage work?

This post really resonated with me so I’d like to share it.  Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or married; I think we can all benefit from the message of friendship as a key component of marriage.  Take a look, it’s a good read 🙂

THE #1 THING WE’D HAVE CHANGED IN OUR MARRIAGE

When life feels exhausting…

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Isaiah 58:11

God’s One-of-a-Kind Love

Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – http://www.reverendfun.com

“Is there a such thing as good and bad people?”

Silence. Awkward silence.

I couldn’t tell if my class was stumped or disinterested by the question. I tried to do the whole uncomfortable silence thing in hopes that one of them would respond but that didn’t last very long (Did I mention, I love to talk?).

“Ok, well, let me ask you this: Think about something you’ve done wrong and felt guilty about. Do you guys have something in mind? …Ok, now, let’s say someone somehow knew about what you had done and proceeded to classify you as a bad person. What do you think about that?”

Every time we listen to a sound byte on the latest celebrity scandal, there’s usually a label thrown into the mix. Drug addict, alcoholic, rich kid, or just plain messed up. We like to categorize based on the things we know. But do we ever take a moment to step back and consider the injustice of seeing a person as the sum of their mistakes rather than taking the time consider the beautiful person God created them to be? How would we feel if we were on the receiving end?

People could think of me as smart or professional or quiet. Or they could label me as boring, overly emotional, religious, or stubborn. Yet by doing so, they lose the essence of who I am – the goofy girl who loves to laugh, sing, read, and write. The girl who spends her mornings getting ready with Hindi music in the background and dances in the bathroom while she combs her hair. The girl that God lovingly observes when she’s really in her element.

I had an aha moment during my first foray into job searching post-undergrad. It had been a frustration of fruitless efforts for several months. After years of knowing exactly where I was going (for the most part), I was lost in the whirl of figuring out what to do with the rest of my life, doubting my decision to major in a liberal arts field, and questioning my competency. As I sat and worked through all these things in my head, one thing became crystal clear to me. God loves me regardless!

If I fail, if I succeed, if I take a wrong turn; he loves me! His love is not conditional. Even when I sin, he loves me. Granted, he hates the sin, but he LOVES me! To God, who I am has nothing to do with what I’ve achieved, where I’ve been, or where I’m going. He’s the one who created me in the first place. He loved every aspect of what he was putting together when he made me. And he sent his son to make sure that my sins wouldn’t ever separate me from his love.

No one else can love me that way. No one.

13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.

from Colossians 2

[New Century Version (NCV)]

Submissive wife? No way!

This morning as a I checked my email (which I do incessantly), I saw the familiar Single Roots newsletter in my inbox and was thrilled by the subject line – Allowing Myself to Dream.

However, when I opened up the link and began reading, I was disappointed. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that Shahan had to say. In fact, I completely agree that God wants us to live life to the fullest rather than twiddling our thumbs as we wait for the one. But, I was looking for something else. I was hoping for a post that would tell me it’s okay to dream about love and marriage.

I wanted someone to tell me there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the part of me that some might label old fashioned. The part of me that longs to be a wife and a mom.

Why did I crave that affirmation? Why do I need someone else to tell me that being a modern woman doesn’t require that I give up my desire for marriage and family? As I wrote this post, the answer surprisingly brought me back to a truth I needed to be reminded of.

On a college trip to Chile, I somehow ended up in a conversation with one of my classmates about premarital sex. When I revealed that I didn’t believe in sex before marriage, she was astounded to say the least. Her response was something along the lines of the following: “I can’t believe that as an educated woman, you subscribe to such antiquated beliefs.”

I was shocked by her reaction. What did having an education have to do with my religious beliefs?

As Christians (male and female), I know we are constantly experiencing this divide. To express one’s religious beliefs is not “PC”. We may be seen as backward  and judgemental, or automatically grouped in with conservatives, evangelists, or “Bible-thumpers”.

As a woman, I have witnessed this conflict on a very gender-specific level.  In my experience, the modern woman is expected to be career-focused, ambitious, independent, and self-sufficient. She should be comfortable with her sexuality and unconcerned with societal conventions.

When I joined the working world and later re-entered school to get my MPH, I felt the weight of these expectations on a very personal level. I don’t know how to explain exactly how I experienced it except to say that they were subtly woven into the fabric of the community around me. It felt as if expressing a desire for marriage and children was just not done. I hesitated to bring up church life because of the negative association attached to religion. And it was a given that my ambitions in life should center around my career. I felt alienated from my peers.

I remember telling a good friend of mine that I felt inadequate compared to my classmates because I wasn’t sufficiently passionate about public health. Her response struck a chord because as soon as she said it, I was hit with how right and true it felt. She said, “That’s not true. You are passionate. You’re passionate about God, friends, and family. You’re just passionate about something different.”

As an Indian American woman raised in the church, I never quite knew what to think. I would hear relatives tell me in chiding tones that I should learn how to cook if I wanted to get married and that I wouldn’t be able to find a husband who would accept my feminist views. I grew up in a church where elders turned a blind eye when boys left service to hang out in the basement, but made sure girls were not doing so.  The double standard grated on my nerves. I would read Paul’s letters saying women should cover their heads, submit to their husbands, and not be allowed to preach in church, and my temper would rise.

As much as I long for marriage and family, that doesn’t make me a conservative in all of my beliefs. My heart rebelled at the notion of man as the traditional head of the household, making all the decisions, and calling all the shots. I believe in a 50/50 marriage, one in which decisions are discussed and made together.

So what should we seek to emulate as women? The role that modern society now assigns us? The submissive wife of the Bible? For those of us who come from different cultures, do we take on the responsibilities outlined in those cultures as caretaker and cook?

The answer is incredibly simple and yet not easy. We take on the role God asks us to adopt. When I realized a few years ago that God kept bringing my attention to this issue, I recognized my stubborn refusal to allow God to direct me. I was scared he would give me an answer I didn’t like. And that’s when I forced myself to say a prayer I didn’t want to say. I asked God to help me see the role he designed for me as a woman and then, to help me accept and adopt it wholeheartedly.

It was a prayer I had to repeat many times but I’m grateful he asked it of me because now I feel closer to him on an issue that used to separate me from him.

So, if you’re reading this and wondering what that answer is, I ask you to take the these next steps. Pray and submit your will to his. Read every passage you can in the Bible about the role of women, discuss questions with fellow believers, and keep asking God for his perspective and wisdom. If you come to your own God-given answers, you’ll find the role he has for you and you won’t need to fit into anyone else’s definition.

As for me, I believe it all ties in to the often quoted Proverbs 31. It’s an astounding chapter actually if you take into consideration the historical context. Here is a woman who is viewed as capable and wise; she is a provider and a mother and wife who makes her husband proud. She appears to do things not usually part of the female role and is well-respected as is her husband. She is the woman I want to be.

After a lot of prayer and contemplation of God’s word, I finally feel at peace with my role as a woman of God but sometimes I just need a little reminder to not seek affirmation from any other source than him.

Tired of Being Single

English: Bangladeshi wedding at Dhaka

The last 12 months have been whirlwind of engagements, proposals, bridal showers, and weddings. Last month, I attended the first of 4 recent/upcoming weddings in my circle of close friends. The next is that of my closest friend at the end of this month and then two more will take place next summer.

I honestly could not be happier about these weddings. I feel so incredibly blessed to see all of these girls end up with husbands/fiances who know God personally and who truly treasure them.

But at the same time, I find I’ve come right up against that cliched experience of being one of the last single ladies. And what they say is true – Somehow, being surrounded by all those weddings makes your own desire for marriage all the more acute. When all of your close friends start heading down the aisle and you’re still on the lookout, the irritation and longing of waiting seems to hang even heavier on your shoulders.

I don’t think I could identify more with the title of this post, which is why I want to share this article from Single Roots. It’s an important reminder that God calls us to look beyond ourselves and the desires we want fulfilled right now. Take a look!

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I Kissed My Date Goodnight

I survived a miniature family reunion this weekend in New Jersey. Relatives gathered from near and far — including both coasts of Canada, Texas, Argentina, and The Garden State itself. We spent several days riding the magical carousel of eating and talking, eating and talking, eating and talking. Conversations effortlessly (and loudly) filled every empty space with multiple languages, laughter and much-needed reminiscence.

pizzaOn my final night there, we ordered a few pizza pies from a local joint and gathered around the table for — wait for it — more eating and talking. (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?) I found myself in a particularly heartfelt, honest conversation with my brother, his wife, and my cousin, Daniel. We talked about faith and how sometimes it’s hard to believe in God, sometimes it’s hard to understand his ways. We each had areas of faith we struggled with, yet all…

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