42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43)
Jesus has entered into Jerusalem through crowds of people shouting “Hosanna!”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus had even predicted His death, and while many Jesus still did not believe, John 12:42 says that many did believe. Sadly, because of their fear, they chose not to acknowledge their faith. The scriptures could not be more clear: These men loved human praise more than praise from God. They were so concerned about what other people would think about them – and what other people would do to them – that they chose man over God. It may be hard to wrap our minds around the fact that they saw Jesus face to face. They saw the miracles. They heard His words. They believed. Yet, they still would not confess (to use the term from KJV) Him.
And while the Pharisees generally deserve the bad rap they get, I can’t help but think I am too often no worse than they. You too? It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to fit in…not wanting to be too different or stand out too much. To do what others desire rather than what God demands. To be concerned about careers, friendships, anything more than God (and, FYI, that’s what’s called an idol). It’s important to think through our own reasons for not openly acknowledging our faith in Jesus. Why we care more about what other humans think than what God thinks. Why we would want their praise over the praise of the Creator of the universe. I don’t want to be like one of those Pharisees. Instead, I want to be in the business of pleasing God…and I want to always acknowledge my faith, regardless of the circumstance.Read More
I don’t identify as a feminist. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in rights for women. I thank God for the right to education, the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to drive, the right to dress how I choose, the right to leave my house on my own, and the right to work (among other rights). Of course, women should have these rights! And, yet, there are women around the world who don’t have many basic rights. Here are a few examples:
In Saudia Arabia, women can’t drive OR vote.
Women in Yemen can’t leave their homes without a man.
Then there’s this, from the Middle East Quarterly:
“It is clear that Muslim girls and women are murdered for honor in both the West and the East when they refuse to wear the hijab or choose to wear it improperly. In addition, they are killed for behaving in accepted Western or modern ways when they express a desire to attend college, have careers, live independent lives, have non-Muslim friends…choose their own husbands, refuse to marry their first cousins, or want to leave an abusive husband.”
And in 28 African counties, millions of women have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (You’ll have to look that one up for yourself. Warning: graphic and disturbing content will be found).
And it’s not just other countries. While American women have a tremendous amount of freedoms (as we should), there are problems here too. I’m from South Carolina, the state that has the ominous record of having the highest domestic violence homicide rates of women. This rate is far below what is seen in other countries, but that doesn’t mean we should stop working towards total eradication. We should fight against domestic violence, including homicides, through education, safe shelters, tougher prosecution, and more. We should continue to fight against sexual assault and rape. We should raise our girls (whether they are our children, our students, or our neighbors) to be capable, strong, and independent. And we should support bringing democracy and freedom to other countries so that women around the world can enjoy the same rights we have.
But I’m still not a feminist. I reject the label because it’s a loaded term. A term that is misunderstood and overused. A term that doesn’t bear much weight, in particular when action is not behind it. I reject it because it’s become a rallying cry for abortion rights, and not really for women’s rights. Because feminists dismiss women who are pro-life or who choose to stay home with their children. Because it’s often about rejecting masculinity and femininity, and claims equality while putting men down. I reject the feminist label because my identity is not actually as a woman, but as a Christian. Oh, I’m definitely for women, but I am not a feminist. By the way, I’m for men too.Read More
Another year passed and I didn’t become a mother.
Another year passed and I didn’t lose those 10(+) pounds.
Another year passed and I didn’t grow my “platform” (i.e. social media stats) as much as I wanted to.
Another year passed and I still have my family (and I settled back down in my hometown near them).
Another year passed and I still have good health and all of my needs met…every. single. day.
Another year passed and I still have a job I love (that even sent me to ISRAEL) with several professional accomplishments to boot.
Like every year, there were pros and cons in 2016, with the pros greatly outweighing the cons. But the year wasn’t good because of goals and resolutions I set 12 months ago. Rather, it was good because of God’s goodness. Regardless of what happens in any given year, it can only be good for that reason alone. So, I’ve decided to drop goals and resolutions for 2017. You see, friends, I will never fulfill all of my goals and resolutions. And it’s not so much that they are unrealistic or that they’re not from God…it’s more that I have spent too much time trying to force things in my own timing instead of His. I’ve focused more on what I don’t have or haven’t accomplished instead of what I do have and how God has blessed me. As I sat down and wrote out my list of goals and resolutions for 2017, it hit me that I don’t need to set goals and resolutions that I can’t control or may not fulfill. So, I deleted them. I decided to give them up. I will not end 2017 feeling like I failed. So, no, I will not have goals or resolutions in 2017. Instead…
I will keep praying for our adoption, for our adoption agencies, for the expectant mothers who place their children for adoption, and for adoptive families.
I will try my best to eat healthy and exercise (and am running a 5K in February so there’s some motivation) and will be grateful that I have more than enough food to eat.
I will keep writing and speaking as God calls me, but will not obsess over likes, shares, or retweets. (This is BIG since my first book comes out in 2017.)
Most importantly, I will continue to learn as much as possible about God and His word. I will spend more time with Him and less time with my own wandering (and not always helpful) thoughts. I will strive to stay focused on God’s plan for my life, and less tuned in to what I want for myself. So, for 2017, I’m letting go of goals and resolutions; instead, I simply have a renewed commitment to the words of John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” That’s it. That’s all I’m going to plan for 2017…and I would love to have some company if anyone wants to join me.
Until next year (I love that joke!), HAPPY NEW YEAR!Read More