As a young adult growing up within a Christian community I felt the need to study into and write about a topic very much at the heart of our generation. It’s popular. It’s hip. It’s healthy. It’s Yoga. What I want to share with you today is some of my thoughts along with a good bit of research I’ve done on the topic in relation to Christianity. 1My main source is a book called Yoga and the Body of Christ by Dave Hunt. It’s extremely informative and you can and should purchase it here. Should yoga have a place in a Christian’s life? Can health-oriented Christians practice yoga without drinking in it’s spiritual intentions? Can yoga help us as Christians convene more intimately with God the Father and Jesus Christ? This is Part 1 of a 3 part series that I will spend devoted to answering those questions.

Before I go on to explain the answer to those questions I want to make one thing clear. The purpose of these blogs is not to condemn those who practice yoga. It is not to condemn Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers or any other group of religious believers. My purpose is concise and clear- to inform Christians of what yoga is and that it is completely antithetical to the Bible and Christianity. Please do not mistake my passion on this subject as a lack of compassion or worse, an expression of hate towards those who disagree. I believe part of what God calls us to as Christians is to be informed and stick together as we rid our lives of those things that disagree with what God says in His Word. So, here we go!

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What is yoga anyways and where does it come from?
Yoga literally means ‘union.’ The purpose of yoga is to unite the individual spirit within each of us to the Universal Spirit. Furthermore it can be said that yoga is the practice of getting in touch with God to achieve the realization that we are all gods. So, basically, yoga was invented as a means to achieve god-hood. Right off the bat this should be sending red flags up in our minds as Christians but we will come back to that. Let’s take a look at an excerpt from the Katha Upanisad 6.10- a book of teaching used by Hindus and Buddhists:

2“When the five perceptions are stilled, together with the mind,
And not even reason bestirs itself; they call it the highest state.
When senses are firmly reined in, that is Yoga, so people think.
From distractions a man is then free, for Yoga is the coming-into-being, as well as the ceasing-to-be.”

Sorry to get all philosophical on you but basically what that said was that yoga is the practice of numbing the mind (even reason) so that you can realize that you are a God. It is recognized in the East, where it originated, as a way of dying- hence the ‘ceasing to be’ from the above quote. This is also why yoga entails exercises encouraging you to slow your breathing. Yoga was created as a way to free oneself from the ‘illusion’ of this life. The point then is to completely numb your mind so that you can connect with the Universal spirit.

This brings me to another well-known aspect of yoga- the chanting of ‘om.’ Most people believe the chanting helps to quiet down, relax and center themselves. 1But did you know that ‘om’ is believed to be the basic sound of the universe and chanting it is used to unite you, the chanter, with the universal deity? Chanting ‘om’ is a surrender to the basic force of the Universe.

So, what does God have to say about all this? Let’s journey back to the very beginning. 1In the Garden of Eden we see here in Genesis 3:5 Satan telling Eve that through something physical (the apple) she could achieve enlightenment and become a God herself. Is this not the exact premise and message of yoga? That through physical ‘asanas’ or poses you can achieve self-realization and become a god. It was a lie in the Garden of Eden and it is a lie now. And the bottom line is that the pursuit of human deification is completely antithetical to the pursuits of a Christian. Yoga promotes the realization of one’s self; Christianity teaches the ridding of one’s desires and wills to that of Jesus Christ. The two do not coincide. They are not compatible. They do not agree.

Secondly, let’s address this purposeful numbing or emptying of the mind stuff. Let’s look at Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.The command to discern what is good and pleasing and perfect in God’s eyes is the most basic for a Christian. Nowhere does the Bible encourage us to empty our minds in order to connect with Him- but rather to exercise discernment and fill our minds with biblical knowledge so that we can obey and convene intimately with Him.

Finally for this segment- does the Bible teach a Universal Spirit? No it does not. The Bible speaks of the spirit in man which separates us from the animals and the holy spirit given to us at baptism. There is no Universal spirit so any actions taken to convene with one makes no sense for a Christian.

Please stay tuned for Part 2- Can I do yoga just for the health benefits and not be affected by the spiritual stuff?

Sources:

  1. Yoga and the Body of Christ by Dave Hunt
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ira-israel/so-where-does-yoga-come-f_b_3463463.html
Posted by: rhenderson8110 | December 23, 2013

Graciously Accepting Change

I just got back from a church convention where I was asked to speak on the topic of accepting change and challenge in life and I was asked to share my notes in an article here. So, here we go! As I thought on the topic of accepting great change I was immediately taken back to that day in Cincinnati that changed my life forever. There I was 4 ½ hours away from home and everything I knew and I got the call relaying that my 43 year old father had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. There is so much to say about that next 2 years before he did pass away but I thought I’d share just 2 major concepts that have meant so much to me and helped me to accept great change in my life at least somewhat gracefully.
Sometimes the hardest part of accepting change in our lives is letting go of our own expectations. We create this image in our mind of what our life or our marriage or our family should look like and when something interrupts that we tend to panic. A topic that I believe gels really well with relation to graciously accepting change is one that we as wives should be intimately familiar with-submission. Are we truly submitted to God? What does that even look like?
My dad used to say, “We must believe that God is both willing and able to bring about the perfect outcome in our lives.” Do you really believe that? I think if we really believed He was both willing and able to bring about the perfect outcome we would feel a great peace in the midst of change. Our God is willing- He wants what is the absolute best for us! And He is most certainly able to perform absolutely anything that we could ever need in our lives. And yet there were times I remember praying and pleading with God and saying, ‘Take anyone but him! Anyone else God and I can make it through- just not him.’ Have you ever found yourself there- bargaining with God? ‘ Father, I can handle anything else, just not that!’ And so I’m asking you today- what is that one change that could happen in your life that you would pray that prayer for? What could change that would create great tension in your relationship with God? What would you plead with God to not take from your life? I’d like you to take a second and write that down. What if you lost your husband? Your home? What if you had a miscarriage? What if you got sick?
At some point, and this is what I want you to take home with you- we have to figure out what is most dear to us and be able to say to God, ‘I’m with You no matter what.’ Now I look back and can see that that is why, for me, it had to be him. God didn’t remove that trial from my life because there was so much to learn there. What a wealth of opportunity lay in that great change for me. And while it is still hard and a little blurry- I can sort through the rubble and begin to see why God allowed that loss to occur in my life. But to be able to get there, to see through that pain and confusion we have got to believe. We have to be completely, utterly, unabashedly, submitted to Him. We have to believe that He is working everything out exactly as it should be. To conclude this point I’d like to turn to Psalm 139 together. When I feel overwhelmed or like nothing is playing out like it should be I turn here. Let’s start in verse 1:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.

and look there beginning in verse 5

You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

So you see, no matter where you find yourself… no matter what changes come He is right there with you. Our lives rarely look as we thought they would- we often find ourselves in what seems like the depths of hell or the uttermost parts of the sea- but what comfort we can take knowing that even there His hand is leading us! There is nowhere you can go and be unable to find Him beside you.

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The second point I wanted to share with you is the profound importance of seeking God in the dark places or in those moments of change. “It is when everything that you need is taken away that you realize God is everything you need.” (Source: Matthew Jacoby, Sons of Korah) The 2 years of sickness I experienced with my dad were the most physically draining and spiritually filling of my life. I’ve heard it said that prosperity drives us away from God while desperation drives us to our knees. This was so true for me. I was so desperate that I prayed and cried and sang to God. All the time- in the shower, in bed, in my car, when I was walking to class, as I sipped coffee… and I began to relate to God in a way I never knew was possible. I began to know Him and He knew me- from the inside out.
When you are going through difficult change in your life I would encourage you to befriend the Psalms. Start with the 1st one and join David as he cries our to his Father in heaven. When you have a minute read Psalm 69. David wrote this Psalm as he was crying out to God when he was alone in the desert, as he was hiding from men constantly trying to take life. He was supposed to be King and yet there he was alone, hungry, confused and apparently forsaken. But I’ve heard it said that that was the making of that man. That can be true of us as well if we allow it to. These moments or weeks or years of change can make us more Christ-like and beautiful to Him than we ever could have been without them. It is in the darkness that we can most easily see the Light. Don’t miss that. I think amidst the scramble and struggle to claw our way out of uncomfortable situations that often we do miss that. So in those moments, take a deep breath and let the panic wash through you. It is in those moments of change and growth and stretching that we can convene most intimately with Him. And here’s the bottom line for us as Christians- It has to be about more than seeking relief. It has to be about seeking God. Even in the dark places. Especially in the dark places. In fact, let’s turn to Job 42:5. It’s only there at the end of the book of Job – after he has lost his family, his home, his cattle, his wealth, his health, his legacy…. It was in that moment that he said in verse 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” This was so true for me- prior to going through that loss I believed in God but it was only after seeking God in desperation day after day after day that I began to truly know Him. The immensity of that blessing makes my eyes fill up with tears. So in conclusion, let’s use those times of change in our lives as powerful opportunities to more clearly see and know our God.

Here is the video of the Sons of Korah performing Psalm 139- one of my absolute favorites!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy_JURkoS_Q

Also, BUY THIS BOOK! This helped me formulate my thoughts for this seminar and it is one of my absolute favorite books ever! It was written by Matthew Jacoby, lead artist of Sons of Korah. http://www.amazon.com/Deeper-Places-Experiencing-God-Psalms/dp/0801015200/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387810366&sr=8-1&keywords=deeper+places

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | December 3, 2013

Why Are Our Marriages Failing?

Why are our marriages falling apart in droves? Why are many of the ones that stay together unhappy and unfruitful? And I’m talking about those that are ‘in the church.’ Why is it that our marriages don’t look much different? What are we missing? I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a number of great messages as of late on the subject of family. I’ve read a number of wonderful books and articles as well. And it has caused me to think about this a lot. What are we getting so wrong? Because the facts show that we are missing it… In many ways, completely.

The conclusion I have come to is this: As a church culture we have a complete lack of understanding as to what a ‘covenant’ is. In other words, we don’t even know what we agreed to on our wedding day. Sure, we know we’re supposed to do conflict resolution, speak kindly and be intimate even when we don’t feel like it. Sure, we have a marriage license and understand we shouldn’t allow divorce to be an option. But the further I looked into this the more I realized I did not know. Covenant is a concept that has disappeared from our culture at large. A covenant is a binding agreement; it is a formal, sealed contract- it’s a promise. In other words, when two parties agree to terms of a covenant it is binding- that means forever with no going back. In a message I listened to lately Gary Petty described the covenant that God made with Abram. Genesis 15:18 says, ‘On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram…’ Now that word, ‘made’ literally means ‘to cut’ a covenant. If you remember, God had told Abram that He would inherit an enormous amount of land and Abram’s response was, ‘How will I know I will inherit it?’ In other words, ‘Father, give me a sign so that I may know you will make it happen. He was essentially saying, ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ And God responded, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other…” And the sentiment behind this was, ‘If I (God) break this covenant, may the same be done to me.’ He literally ‘cut’ a covenant with Abram. Do we view the marriage covenant that way? Would we be willing to say, if I break this covenant allow me to be cut to pieces? Perhaps if we did this on our wedding day we would take it more seriously than we do. We need to at the very least understand it in principle. There is no turning back. We are committed, 100%.

Ministry of marriage

Another aspect that is often misunderstood is to Whom we are making this covenant with. On August 1st, 2010, Alex & I entered into covenant with God– not with each other. We held hands and vowed in front of those witnesses to keep our promise to God- to walk together to become more like Jesus Christ and to learn to love each other in a way that is glorifying to Him. Perhaps the most profound thing I am learning about our marriage is this- it’s not about us. Your marriage is not about you. It is not about our happiness. Marriage is a ministry. Now, if we put into practice the principles that God has given us, marriage is designed to bring us great and overwhelming joy! God made it that way as a gift to us. But let’s not be deceived; it is not about us. We are either demonstrating the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father or we are bringing shame on them. Period. This understanding should cause us to think very deeply about who we marry. As counter-cultural as it is we need to slow down, think deeply and pray continually when we are choosing our mates. The question should not only be ‘will we be happy?’ but rather, ‘can we work together to glorify God?’.

Marriage is not just an institution; it is a calling. It is not a party; it is a responsibility. You are doing a work- long before you have children. So many people, women in particular, yearn for children so much that they forget the importance of what they are doing right now. Does your yearning for children prohibit you from investing wholly in the gospel of marriage? Are our marriages falling apart as we focus our prayers, thoughts and desires towards something else? A job, a child, a home, a ministry, etc. Let’s change the tide of divorce and ineffective marriages. Let’s take a deep breath and grab hold of the responsibility that we have to be lights to a dark world- especially in this area. If we can demonstrate genuine devotion and service to one another within our marriages we can illustrate to the world what God wants to have with each of them- a true, authentic, passionate loving relationship.

Here are links to some incredible resources on the topic:

http://www.ucg.org/blog/divorce-my-generation-believers-or-lie-self-fulfilled-life/

http://san-antonio.ucg.org/sermon/doctrine-covenants-god-%E2%80%93-part-one

http://san-antonio.ucg.org/sermon/doctrine-covenants-god-%E2%80%93-part-two

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | November 12, 2013

Homemade Character- It’s worth the wait

Every time I make whipped cream I wonder why I am doing it. Seriously- it takes 20 minutes and seems to require a broken arm. Maybe it’s because I was born in the generation of immediate gratification… but it seems like it takes forever! And the problem is that I can’t do anything else while I’m waiting because it requires both hands. Doing 1 task for 20 minutes- unheard of! So, in all my extra time spent whipping my mind began to wander… I wonder if sometimes this is how God feels as He is preparing us to grow and develop. Except it doesn’t take Him 20 minutes, it takes our whole lives! Here are a few analogies I came up with while whipping away:

1. It seems like NOTHING is happening. Seriously, like for 15 of the 20 minutes that it takes to whip up some whipped cream it looks exactly the same! Meanwhile my arm is going numb, well not numb because I can feel pain shooting down it. But at some point it goes numb. And I look into that stainless steel bowl and just will it to start forming peaks. Or bubbles. Or something! But it doesn’t… it takes its sweet time. I think sometimes that is a lot like our spiritual growth. It seems like I put a LOT of effort in to try to change something in me and I really don’t see the results of that hard work until a long time later. If I see it at all! But, alas, at some point if I haven’t given up and run to the store for the chemical-infused spray whipped cream- those beautiful, fluffy white peaks begin to take shape. So, don’t give up. If you’ve been putting lots of prayer, study or self control in- the results will follow. You may not see it today or tomorrow or a year from now… but they will surface. And just like the taste of homemade whipped cream- there’s nothing like it and it’s totally worth it!

2. The best things in life are homemade. I noticed a cute little sign in a church member’s kitchen that read: “Good character like soup is usually homemade.” How true! There are many store-bought alternatives to food but the truth is that it never tastes better than if it was made from scratch, with love, at home. I think this is true of our character too. We’ve got to spend hours prepping and cutting and kneading and heating in order to be as spiritually pleasing to God as we can be. It’s homemade. Deep down in the most intimate places of our minds and hearts. It’s soul-work really. You know how they say some food soothes the soul? It’s true- and it’s never the convenient, store-bought stuff. There is no shortcut. It’s the ingredients you carefully picked out, delicately washed and meticulously prepared. The stuff you poured your heart into making. Moral of the story- the time it takes to make homemade whipped cream and homemade character is worth it. Broken arm and all. 😉

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3. I’m so glad God doesn’t run to the store for a quick fix. Just like I get frustrated in the midst of doing all that work and seeing no results- I can imagine God feeling that way with me too. I know He is pouring His spirit into me, giving me opportunities to learn and then watching me face plant time and time again. And it made me think… I’m so glad God doesn’t throw in the towel with me. I’m eternally thankful He doesn’t throw the bowl in the sink and run to the store for some Reddi-Wip. Apparently, our Father is into homemade too. He is in it for the long haul with us- and praise Him for that!! It struck me that as I am learning patience God is displaying His. So now, every time I feel those stings of pain creeping up my arm as I beat whipped cream I’ll think of how I need to use a KitchenAid stand up mixer… haha no but seriously, I’ll stand there, smile and thank God for His patience and His faithfulness to me. 

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Posted by: rhenderson8110 | October 25, 2013

Surrendered Cemetery- Is Your Marker There?

The sweet, spiced scent of simmering apple butter swells through our apartment as I sit on the couch with my coffee this morning. Alex & I have experienced God’s faithfulness in our lives again as of late and our spirits are bubbling over with thankfulness. All is good in our little world. And I was thinking about why that is- why we live such blessed lives… and at first I thought because of God, which is true. But actually a lot of people know about God but don’t feel this connectedness with Him. For me, I live a blessed life because I am trying every day to surrender everything to Him. To give it all away for Him. To lay down my life for His cause and His glory. 

Alex & I bought a very eye opening documentary called, ‘Agenda.’ I was watching it yesterday as I peeled the apples for my apple butter. The whole thing is definitely worth a watch but there was a part at the very end that caught my attention. The speaker was commenting on what the mindset of Americans used to be. They so believed in principles such a freedom and the sanctity of every human life that they considered it an honor to defend it. They wanted to serve to preserve such ideals. They were willing to sacrifice their time, energy, money and if asked of them, their lives. Their lives were laid at the feet of something greater than themselves. They showed photos of the rows of crosses in Arlington Cemetery- all those men and women who laid down their lives.

And it got me thinking… aren’t we, as Christians, called to lay down our lives for something as well? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) God says that giving our lives is our ‘reasonable service.’ In a very real way, we are all ‘in the Service’- just like all those people who are marked in Arlington Cemetery. And then I wondered, if God had a ‘Surrendered Cemetery’ marking each person who gave their life completely over to Him in service, would I have a marker? Would you? Maybe He recreates it each day. Each day we either choose to surrender completely to Him or we don’t. How many days would there be a Rachel Henderson marker? Is there some corner of my life that I refuse to sacrifice for Him? Do I like it just a little too much? Is there something I cling to like a child clutches a security blanket? How surrendered am I? Would there be a marker there for me?

Surrendered Cemetary

I think complete surrender looks different for everyone… and then is exactly the same. What I mean is that we need to think about what means the most to us in this life- our family, our wealth, our appearance, our pride, etc. and then ask- would I give that up for God? In fact, do I give that up for God now? Is there an area in your life that you know you should entrust to God but you feel yourself constantly snatching it back? “Will I ever get married?!” “Will I ever have children?” “How will we pay the bills?!” If we continue to cling to something or someone and are embarrassed or unwilling to give it to God- we are not ‘giving our lives’ to Him. I listened to a great story from Jean Gardner on Focus on the Family and she said, ‘I don’t know what the next chapter is. I don’t know what is ahead- except that I know Jesus is ahead. He hasn’t given me tomorrow yet. All I have is today- here with you- and if He doesn’t give tomorrow to me it is okay.” Have we really surrendered that much? Are you really okay with God taking you anywhere? Are you really okay if God’s design for you does not include marriage or children? Do you trust Him that much? Have we really laid our lives at His feet? David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psa. 51:17) We have got to get to this point. We have to break that hardened, stubborn spirit within us and replace it with the understanding that we are in complete poverty without His guidance. Our way is not better than His. Say that to yourself again. As my Dad used to say, ‘We must believe that He is both willing and able to bring about the perfect outcome.’

my life

That’s a lot to think about. After I finish this I’m going to sit down and write a list of those areas in my life I consistently try to ‘take back.’ I want to know what I am not surrendering now so that I can work on laying it down. I want to lay it all down. I want to give the ultimate sacrifice every day. I want God to peer down at me, smile, and know there is a marker for me. I’d like to picture Him on His knees in that ‘Surrendered Cemetery.’ It’s evening now and the sun is setting. Maybe he is humming a Psalm quietly, as He parts the earth with His powerful hands and places my marker there, in a special spot. Maybe He chuckles thinking of all my do-overs and mess-ups but He lovingly mounds the dirt around my marker securing it there. And He knows He has my life- my whole life- where it should be, completely, utterly in His hands.

Here is the link to purchase the DVD Documentary, Agenda: http://www.amazon.com/Agenda-Grinding-America-Curtis-Bowers/dp/B003Z3CZGG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1382705741&sr=8-2&keywords=agenda

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | October 17, 2013

If I Was In Love With God’s Law…

I have found a kindred spirit in David. I hate to go all Anne of Green Gables on you- but truly, the more I read the Psalms I believe David & I would have been kindred spirits. I love just about everything about that man- I love his passion, his leadership, his vulnerability, his zeal for repentance and most of all his deep, intimate, overwhelming love for God & His way. David had a love affair with God. I have a love affair with the Psalms as a way to express my love affair with God. And it got me thinking that God doesn’t want me to only love Him. Strange you say, let me explain. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in how much I love my God that I forget He is calling me to love a few other things too. I’m going to do a 3 part series on the things I have found that God wants us all to love, besides Himself. 

Loving God’s Law

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What use is it to love God and not live His way of life? That would be like me telling Alex, ‘I love you but I’m not willing to do anything for you.’ Sometimes I think we can fall into the trap of loving the blessings God brings while seeing the laws of God as burdens. Let’s explore that. Do you feel the way David did when he wrote this, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psa. 119:97) Do you really love it? If we did love it, what would that look like? 

1. If I was in love with God’s law I would think about it on a regular basis. 
How often do we really think about God’s law in our day to day lives? David said it was his ‘meditation all the day.’ Somehow ‘the law’ seems like this huge, ambiguous topic and it’s hard to know what to even think about. So what I do is I ask myself, ‘How am I living my life differently because I have God’s truth/laws?’ And I think well, I keep the Holy Days and the Sabbath… and then I think and I am devoted to my husband and serving my family. And the ball starts rolling. Then I ask, ‘Ok, and how have those changes benefited my life?’ Well, because I keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days I can have hope. I am able to face trials with a new joy and my soul finds rest in knowing God has a plan. My marriage is wonderful and satisfying and full of joy. And then I can truly begin to ‘meditate’ on God’s law and how awesome it is. Once I start thinking about that it’s almost like I can’t stop. I think when you begin doing this you’ll discover something. You will discover that everything in your life is changed and bettered by your knowing and keeping God’s law. He created it that way. At that point how can we not be overflowing with love for God’s law?!
2. If I was in love with God’s law I would be anxious to rid my life of anything that was contrary to it.
A big and important part of love is sacrifice. What things are you willing to sacrifice in order to follow God’s laws and glorify Him? A topic that is easily segued into from here is our entertainment choices. Do you say you ‘love God’ but would be sorely embarrassed if your minister looked through your DVD selection? I go further into choosing godly entertainment in my Guarding your Heart series here, here and here. The bottom line- is anything you own contrary to God’s law? Would you watch those movies, read those books or play those video games if your Savior was sitting by your side? The reality is that if we truly loved God’s law and saw the great value in it we would not want unlawful things anywhere near us. We would trust our Father and the guidelines He lovingly places around us. We would not be flirting with the line of sin; we would be running as fast as we can in the other direction. So when it comes to the ungodly things in your life, are you clinging or flinging? (Liked that, didn’t you? :))
3. If I was in love with God’s law I would have an urgent desire to share it with others.
You know how there are like a billion ‘I lost 114 lbs using ________ and it changed my life!’ weight loss testimonials out there? When something changes our lives we can’t wait to share it- even if it’s a little hokey and tacky. 🙂 I believe we should all enthusiastically participate in the ‘I lost the old, hollow and sin-ridden way of life and God’s law has changed my life!’ commercials. Okay maybe not commercials but you know what I mean. The law of God has changed my life and I should be burning with an overwhelming desire to tell people about it! We should be ripe with an overflowing craving to share the only path to true prosperity with others! One thing my dad used to say is that ‘God is in the people business!’ If so, we should be too! God wants every person to come to an understanding of His law and turn to Him- and so should we! (1 Tim.2:3-4)

Hopefully this has given you a little self-test to see how in love with God’s law you are. He doesn’t want us to obey just because He tells us to; ultimately He wants us to want to. He wants us to love it deep down in the core of who we are. So think about it- at a stop light, in the shower or on your lunch break. Then do some weeding. And then be willing to share it with anyone who will listen!

Stayed tuned for the other 2 blogs in this series: ‘Loving Salvation’ & ‘Loving Each Other!’

For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. (Rom. 7:22)

Because I had such an overwhelming response to the last post I did on Godly Grieving, I thought I’d share some additional thoughts with you. So here are some extra tid-bits, perhaps on the more practical side of how to get through a devastating time in your life.

I know the Bible talks about trials producing things in us such as perseverance, character and hope (which I’m quite sure they do) but my loss brought out something else that surprised me- spontaneity. In general I’m a pretty by the book, follow the rules, routine worshiping type of person. And that has served me decently well most of my life. But there were times in the midst of all the tears and rushing and frenzied funeral arrangements that I just needed to do something *gasp* outside my routine. Something that did not make sense. That did not fit into my schedule. Something that did not demonstrate how ‘responsible’ I was. Like leave the couch at 11:30PM to go get a piping hot coffee with 1 cream from McDonald’s…not even so much for the coffee but for that feeling you get when you wrap your hands around it and feel the warmth course through your body. Or skip a class and drive to the pet store just to pet some puppies and be reminded that life is good and vibrant and just beginning somewhere. Or make an impromptu decision to highlight my hair. Because trust me on this one ladies, when you’re in a tough place in your life for any lengthened period of time, a new hair style helps- it just does. This is what I learned- I am physical. Therefore I can pray and fast and listen to sermons (and I should!) but sometimes you just need to go to Trader Joe’s and buy salt and vinegar chips and chocolate chip dunkers. And dunk, for a long time. And that is okay. I think I needed to learn to cut myself some slack; in fact, I think we could all learn to cut ourselves a little more slack than we do. In some phases of a trial it is just about getting through the day and sometimes small treats can help us do that. So take it from me, when you’re in the midst of heartache, allow yourself to indulge in a few good things.

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Secondly, sing your way through it. Or pray. Or both. But for me it was all about the singing. Now, I’m not really into the contemporary, repeat Jesus a million times, sappy Christian music. But I am here to tell you there are plenty of other good options out there! I had a friend make me a mix of uplifting, meaningful christian songs and all I can say is I’m shocked the CD still plays. I had about an hour and a half drive from Hillsdale back home and in the semester my Dad passed I made that trip every other day… which amounted to about 10 hours of driving each week. That’s a lot of drive time. But oh I savored it- I could barely wait to get into my car and cease from ‘holding it together.’ I would put in that CD, sing, cry and pray the whole way there and then the whole way back. Sometimes I just talked- out loud- and explained why I was frustrated or sad or angry. Ironically, my dad’s favorite scripture was Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Because at this point I’m fairly confident I wayyyyyy over-used that privilege! 🙂 But it was so wonderful to know no matter how hard of a day I was having, that I was going to have an hour and a half with my God. Just me and Him. Every other day. So, I sang- loudly and unabashedly. I sang until I was crying too much to do so. And it was awesome. Find some way to connect with God on an emotional level. We all need to feel ‘heard’- and especially by our Father in heaven. So, let Him hear you. The day I graduated Hillsdale was an emotional day for a variety of reasons… I could finally breathe because I didn’t have a heavy class load, I was leaving some ridiculously wonderful friends and my Dad was not there to see it. But you know what was the biggest loss that day? I knew that I wasn’t going to have my hour and a half heart-to-hearts in the car anymore. And even though all my family and Alex were there, I made sure I drove away from Hillsdale that last time, alone just so I could soak in one more heart-to-heart. So now I build those heart-to-hearts into my life on purpose. And I would urge you to do the same. When you need to feel understood, when you need to release pent up emotion and when you need to remember you are not alone- convene. And then sing and pray your little heart out.

The last thing I’ll share this time is this: sometimes you just gotta’ laugh. I mean, sometimes it is funny how many things can go badly all at once. Just how ridiculous life can be at times. Okay, so maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t sound funny. Let me put it to you this way- it’s either extremely devastating or funny. I choose funny. For example, I distinctly remember being at the hospital with Dad right after he was diagnosed. Hospitals are extremely uncomfortable for me- all that stainless steel and those off-white sheets with little flowers that had to have been used a zillion times. And we were all still digesting the diagnosis- so it was awkward. And I remember the nurse telling my Dad to get into his gown and lay on the bed to wait for the doctor. And you know the gowns- the ultra-masculine powder blue ones with the gaping hole in the back so you couldn’t escape with your dignity even if you begged and pleaded and stapled the back closed. And it was my dad… awkward. So he went into the bathroom and I sat outside dreading the impending weirdness. And he opened the bathroom door, took a step out, with his socks still on and with a completely serious face said something like, ‘Do you think if I asked they could get me a few more in camo to take home with me for later?’ And a smile swept across his face and he burst out laughing- and so did I. And we just laughed and laughed until we were looking for tissues and man was that better than the alternative. So sometimes, just laugh- it really is kind of funny… 🙂
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Oh, and here is the most important link I will ever include… one to those TJs chocolate dunkers!: http://www.cooktj.com/trader-joes-products/chocolate-chip-dunkers

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | October 9, 2013

Godly Grieving

Friday is going to be rough. I just know it. Friday marks 5 years since I lost my dad to cancer right there, in our living room.  Some years it passes with nothing but a few tears and memories and other years the loss feels so sharp and fresh that it almost takes my breath away. This year I have felt the wave of sadness building since I got back from Alaska. Each day I glance at the calendar knowing that day is coming and feeling like I just might not be able to keep it together this time. But you know what, that’s okay. God didn’t call us to always ‘keep it together.’ He didn’t call us to not feel grief over loss. He didn’t call us to glaze over it and act like we’re fine. But I do believe He asks us to grieve in a godly way. Godly grieving is a topic I’ve thought about a lot. What is it? How do we do it? And in what ways is it different than grieving without faith? I think these are important questions and I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned to help me sort through and solidify it in my own mind before Friday.

I’m no expert ‘griever’ but I can tell you this- the first thing that comes to mind is that godly grieving involves honesty. We need to be honest with God and with ourselves about what we are feeling. For me, honesty involved allowing myself to cry. A lot. And in public sometimes. It’s glamorous, I know… but I believe in the power of being honest with God, telling Him how you feel and leaving it there with Him.  I was in college when Dad passed, which meant I had a full load of classes, a major office in my sorority and a hurting family to try to help through a difficult time. So you know what, whenever the grief or sadness or anger or confusion came over me- I cried. I let it wash all the way through me. And it was okay. People might look at you weird, maybe even stare but it is the most cleansing thing in the world. There may or may not have been a number of coats and sweaters that were taken to the dry cleaners later to clean the sleeves… and I may have been ‘that girl’ who was always crying in the coffee shop at Hillsdale College… but I also graduated from that college, on time, with a cleansed heart and a soul laid bare to God. No bitterness. No lingering anger. Just real, raw, daily intimacy and honesty with my God. Plus, it’s scriptural (which always helps validate my babbling :)): “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Ps. 126:5).
Godly Grieving
The second part of godly grieving is grieving with the end in mind. I realize I kind of stole that from Stephen Covey’s Habit, ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ But it’s not really plagiarism if you admit it… and change a few words, right? I believe it is completely normal and okay to sob. I mean really sob, like lose it for a minute or two. Sometimes life is hard and painful and cutting. The difference is that after the sting wears off we must remember the hope that we have. Paul says, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14) We are supposed to be sad when we lose someone… what we are not supposed to do is get lost in it. I am allowed to miss my Dad on Friday but it is not okay for me to become bitter because of my loss. God has given me hope! I will see him again someday! It is right to grieve over the things I will not get to share with him in this life. He wasn’t there to see me graduate, get married or buy my first house. He won’t be there when we have our first child and I can’t pick up the phone and ask for his advice or run into his arms for a hug. There is a hole in my life. It is important that I acknowledge the hole… and then continue living the rest of this life that God has given to me. I have hope and I cannot be so focused on what I don’t have that I miss out on everything I do have. As Job said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
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The last thing I want to share today is that sometimes it is really hard to be joyful in the midst of great loss. But it’s really important to do it anyways. Something I think God is trying to teach me lately is that because joy is a fruit of the Spirit I must learn how to have it. It is not optional. When circumstances in life are difficult, it must come from within. More and more I am learning that joy is a choice. Sometimes it’s so easy I don’t even have to think about it- and other times I need to muster up the strength to put in a Brian Regan  comedy DVD and just laugh… even when I feel like crying. It’s choosing to write someone a card when you feel low yourself. It’s choosing to get up and go for a walk instead of wallowing on the couch.  Take a lesson from the wisest man who ever lived when he says, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Prov. 17:22) Sometimes it’s a battle but we must choose to be joyful.

Deep breath. Sometimes life is hard… but sometimes it’s really great too. I feel oddly prepared for Friday because I know in my heart that it’s okay to be sad and important to be grateful too. I will go to the cemetery on Friday and shed some tears. And then I will offer a prayer of thanks for the 20 years I had with him, get up and choose joy

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“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Rev. 21:4

Oh, and here is a link to Brian Regan- a clean comedian who has helped me laugh through seasons of sadness: http://brianregan.com/

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Posted by: rhenderson8110 | October 7, 2013

Fill Your Tank So You Can Fill Someone Elses’

Health has always been a topic that was ‘on the table’ for my family. We talk about enzymes, exercise, sprouting, juicing, running, lifting, biking, cleansing, and buying organic. We come from all different perspectives on the matter of health- there’s a bodybuilder, a gardener, a hopeful mom-to-be, a frequent gym-goer and some that haven’t stepped foot inside one. Anyways, it has always been something we talked about. As I enter into different phases of life I am realizing that there is a great spiritual importance to cherishing our health also. 

I have come to see in my own life that when I put my health on the back-burner I have less energy and that my lack of energy has big consequences for myself and those around me. For the past 6 months or so I have been making a very deliberate effort to build Alex & I up from the inside out. Later I’m going to share with you some practical tips on how to begin building healthy habits into your life too. Right now I’m going to convince you that it is important for Christians to place a strong emphasis on taking care of themselves.

First of all, the less energy I have the less willing or able I am to serve others. In short, being unhealthy leads to selfishness. I am so consumed with getting through the day that I am less cheerful, less apt to jump in and help and much less able to enthusiastically glorify God. And then I come home and somehow find it to be 10:00 and I’ve done nothing but lay on the couch and feel ‘blah.’ I realize that is not a highly educated word but I couldn’t find another more fitting to the sentiment. We are put on this planet for a short time to give our lives in service. Christ came to serve the world and we must take up that charge as well. How can we accomplish our purpose if we are physically drained? One thing I have learned- if I am not filling my tank with good, whole foods and getting outside to move on a regular basis, when someone asks for my help I simply have nothing left to give. What an awful thing.

Secondly, and now that I think about it maybe this should have been ‘firstly’… God tells us to! Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1Cor. 6:9) At some point we all must realize that we are renters. We don’t own our bodies- they are on loan and you do NOT want to let the Lender down. It’s a command to take care of ourselves… so let’s get to it! 

So, some practical tips on how you can begin to make your health a priority in your life:

1. Smoothies. This is my favorite tip because they are SO good! For about 9 months now I’ve been making Alex and I smoothies in the morning. It seems like a big task but I promise it takes about 10 minutes and it gives you a huge energy boost! Some things I throw in there are chia seeds, flax seed, a mix of powdered greens (barley grass, wheat grass, chlorella, etc.), maca root powder, Vitamin D, local honey, and peanut butter. I also use almond milk which is yummy and great if you don’t do dairy. Just throw in fruit, some boosters and maybe some spinach or kale too. I started to feel noticeably better about 4 days into doing this. Make it part of your routine and get ready to feel better!
smoothies

2. Make a commitment to go do something active at least 3-4 times/week. This can be going for a walk for all I care. During the summer Alex and I rarely make it into the gym- it’s way too nice out to do that! But we go on bike rides, go running, take a walk at night, go kayaking, and play tennis often. It’s feels so good to just move- especially if you have sedentary jobs like we do! Find something you enjoy doing and then go do it. It also might help to find a buddy. Your spouse is a ready-made one but if not, find a friend that you can go do these things with. We need those endorphins!1291533_10201577494933143_138339948_o

3. Buy a fancy water bottle. Okay, maybe you don’t have to do that but it helped me. I used to be terrible about drinking water- I was just not a thirsty person by nature. But I went and bought myself a fancy water bottle and I make myself fill it up 3 times/day. One thing I do is fill it up in the morning and put it on the table when I bible study. I begin filling my physical tank while I am filling my spiritual one. Plus it’s another routine- and routines happen to be what hold my crazy life together. 🙂 Anyways, when I drink water I feel a million times better, my body is cleansed and it’s so healthy. Commit to it and you’ll be so glad you did!

Here is a link to that fancy water bottle I got… there’s even a pink one ;): http://www.amazon.com/Camelbak-Bottle-0-75-Liter-24-Ounce-Charcoal/dp/B006ZT8MKU/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&srs=2586702011&ie=UTF8&qid=1381153974&sr=1-1&keywords=camelbak

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 Jn. 1:2)

Bottom line, let’s commit to filling our physical tanks so we can enthusiastically fill others’!

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | October 1, 2013

Small & Significant

Being in Alaska changed something in me. It’s really hard to hang over the edge of a boat with the engines turned off, hearing only the distant creaking of a monstrous blue glacier atop a mountain and not be changed forever. It was just me, the calm water, the creaking and my crisp, icy breath. I felt like an intruder- like I walked in on something above my paygrade- something too wonderful for me. And then this came to mind: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.’ (Psalm 138:6) I finally understand that scripture! It was just too beautiful. Too vast. Too breathtaking. Too wonderful. 

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What a healthy experience it is to feel small. Being next to a glacier that is 3/4 of a mile long has a way of making you feel rather small… but more than that it makes my troubles feel small too. How can my God create such huge and marvelous things and be unable to solve my daily issues? It can’t be. The biggest thing I am taking home with me from Alaska is this: He is able. It seems simple. And maybe obvious. But I constantly find myself forgetting that He is able. Able to solve my problems. Able to direct my path. Able to teach me and guide me so I can grow. Somehow the busy-ness and car exhaust and online bill paying cloud that in my mind. But, I can report to you with full confidence that He is in fact able.

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I felt small but I also felt something else. Why is it that He chose to bless me enough so that I could afford to go to Alaska?? That’s an experience of a lifetime. Most people are grateful to be clothed and fed and sheltered and here I am being grateful for a trip to Alaska. I felt small but I felt significant. Special. As I looked at the mountains I felt my eyes go misty, my breath catch and my heart overflow with gratitude. ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.’ (Psalm 23:2-3) What an awesome and loving God we serve! And what a blessed and rich life I have already led. As I stood there it was like a thick, heavy blanket of abundance came over me. And so there I stood, tears spilling over the brims of my eyes and slipping onto my coat, all wrapped up in His love. 

small and significant
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
(Psalm 104:31-34)

 

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