Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

613 Steps to Becoming a Holier You

medium_14370222867
dMadPhoto via photopin cc

As I typed in the title to this blog, I had to have a momentary giggle at myself. Of course the title is ridiculous, but only because it is written that way. As Christians, we read those words and think, “yeah right! Thank God we don’t have to be bound by that extensive and harsh old covenant law.” Yet, even as those words spill out of our mouths, in many of our hearts we still live our Christian life this way. While our minds know we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone, we tend to get confused about how we become holy and what that means. What do I have to do to be holy?

I heard a pastor recently say, “the only way to be holy is to live our life exactly the way God says.” While I agree that God wants us to live our lives according to His Word (absolutely!), I think that the definition of “holiness” and what it means to us today is getting confused. This confusion can lead to a works-based, legalistic type faith, and it can be dangerous. To understand being “holy”, one must look at the Old Testament and the New Testament to get a well-rounded view of the issue. By doing so, you see that there is a big change that happens following the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s actually quite fascinating. Let’s talk etymology.

Old Testament “Be Holy”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used most frequently in occurrences where God told his people to “be holy” is “qodesh” and it occurs some 468 times in the OT. It can be translated, “apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness.” Sometimes that is in reference to people and other times to places, objects, etc. It is an adjective that describes someone or something that is set apart for God. It is sacred. It is untainted by sin and stain. Like a bride rightfully wearing white on her wedding day, it has been kept pure and separate for the bridegroom.

The word is used over and over in the OT. It is used many times throughout Exodus and Leviticus, where the law is being revealed and taught to the children of Israel. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Before Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, the people of God had to work hard to live by the commandments, offering animal sacrifices when they inevitably failed. They really had to work to be holy and set apart for God. Their lifestyle in following the commandments was what set them apart (made them holy) before God and men. Along with circumcision, this was their mark that they were, in fact, God’s people.

After a long list of animals that could and could not be consumed, God said, “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

The word for “holy” here is slightly different because it is made more personified to mean “holy one, saint, person set apart.” It has the same root meaning as qodesh. God tells His people that they must follow these rules to be holy, set apart for Him, because He is holy. So, in other words, in order for them to be connected to God, related to Him and set apart for Him, they had to follow the Law precisely. It was the only way they could be connected to God.

New Testament “Be Holy”

A search of NT references to “being holy” reveals that it is mentioned only a handful of times. This was interesting to me, because we view the NT gospels and epistles as something of a guidebook of how we Christians are to live today. While every verse of the OT and NT is profitable to us and important for us to study, we can relate more closely to the saints of the NT and how they built the church as models for what we should do today. The NT is filled with encouragements, commandments and teachings on how to live. We learn what we should and shouldn’t do as believers, and how to honor God in our lives. Yet, they don’t often talk about the need to “be holy”…not compared to the OT books.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…” Ephesians 1:4

The Greek word for “holy” here is the word “hagios.” It is the closest related word to the Hebrew qodesh, but the difference is that this word means: “most holy thing, a saint.” It is not talking, necessarily, about being set apart for God. In fact, the word is also used in the NT to describe the Holy Spirit, Father God and Jesus Christ. In other words, this particular word is used to describe something or someone who is, not in the process of being made holy and separate (or keeping one separate until that day comes), but rather someone who has already been transformed into a holy being/saint.

It’s like that spotless bride on her wedding day. This bride has kept herself pure and set apart for her groom. She arrives, they say their vows and are wed. Her name is changed to His. She is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. They are one. In the same way, when we come to Christ, we are transformed. We become holy because we are in Him and He is holy.

The context of the following verse is regarding the people of Israel. Paul is explaining the mystery of how the gospel came to the gentiles because of the rejection of the Jews, but there is still a plan for the salvation of the Jews. The Jewish people are called the natural branches, while the gentiles are branches that have been grafted in, blessed to be able to included in the master plan. Since we are grafted in, this is applicable directly to Christians.

“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:16

Do you see it? If the root is holy, so ARE the branches. Christian, we are not holy today because of anything we have done except for one thing: we have attached ourselves to the root – Jesus Christ. We are holy because we are attached and dwelling in the Holy One of God. Because Jesus is holy, so are we holy in Him. Notice the Word says “are” and not “will be” or “working towards” or “getting there.” The branches are holy because they are connected to the holy root. If we have given our lives to Jesus and been sealed by the Holy Spirit, we are holy because He is holy. It’s finished.

Praise the Lord, saint! We don’t have to work to be holy. We don’t have to worry that we’ll never get there. God has made us holy through Jesus, and we have a new mark. Before Christ, the people of Israel had to labor at keeping the law as their mark of holiness. Our mark of holiness is the Holy Spirit in us. We are marked and sealed by the Spirit showing that we are His. Hallelujah!

But wait a minute…should we use this liberty to sin? Are we still to be kept “holy” as in separate from the world and sin? Paul had an answer for that question too.

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

There’s no question about it…we are to live our lives in a way that glorifies God. We are STILL to live in an OT “holy”, setting ourselves apart way. We don’t do this to earn salvation, and we don’t do it to earn holiness. We are already holy in Christ. The works that follow a transformed life are merely the evidence that we are already in Christ. Will we sin and fall short? Yes. 1 John says we lie if we say we have no sin, but it also says if we live in unrepentant sin, but claim to know Jesus, we are deceiving ourselves. The fruit we bear tells us whether we are branches on the good and holy root, or not.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” Matthew 12:33

Are we holy? Yes. Right now, if you are in Christ Jesus, you are holy. How do you know if you are in Christ Jesus? There should be good fruit in your life. You should be walking in a way that honors God….not a slave to sin but a servant to Christ. Set apart not to “become holy” but because you ARE HOLY. Amen!

It’s like that beautiful bride. She says her vows, takes His name and becomes one with her groom. Then the groom must go away for a while to prepare a beautiful new home for his bride. While he is away, will she honor him still? Will she keep herself pure and undefiled? Will she live in a way that brings honor to the name of her groom for everyone around her to see? Yes, she will, because she is His bride. How lovely.

Be blessed, you bride of the Most Holy One. You are His. You are holy in Him. Now go and live like it bringing honor to His name!

Advertisements
4 Comments »

Lighten Up and Make Merry!

Image
photo credit: mousiekm via photopin cc

My husband loves it when I’m silly. He loves the silly, playful and eccentric me. That’s the girl he fell in love with and he just delights in my carefree silliness. The problem is, when real life gets to be busy, hectic, difficult and downright chaotic, it can be difficult to find a few moments to be silly and playful. We often fall into the trap of being too serious day after day as we deal with trials, packed schedules and the labors of life.

It’s in those times, when our home is filled, not with laughter and playing, but with serious tones and furrowed brows, that we just don’t enjoy each other the way that the Lord wants us to. It’s not to say that we aren’t going to need serious intervals. We know that for everything there is a time. There is a time to mourn and to grieve and to focus. There is a time to meditate on the Lord and to soberly consider issues facing the family. God calls us to be a sober (thoughtful, wise and careful) people. We definitely don’t want to be a bunch of giggling weirdos all the time, but it is a good thing for a family to play, laugh and be silly together.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.” Job 8:21

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

When life is getting too serious in your home, try a little play time. Tackle your husband and remind him of the carefree girl he married. Make faces, be silly. serve with joy and play with the kids. The thing is, the world has plenty to worry about and a million problems to steal their joy away. While we face trials and tribulations (especially being Christians), we know that our Lord Jesus has overcome the world. You see, we have victory. We have a relationship with the all-powerful God of the universe. We have no need for worry. We do need to be wise and sober, but we can laugh in the face of every trial knowing that God is in control and that He is bigger than our problems. The Proverbs 31 woman laughed at future trials.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

So lighten up! Let go and have some fun with your hubby and your kids. Be silly. Be goofy. Enjoy your time with them and make your home a place of happiness, joy, laughter and love. Rejoice in the Lord always and make merry!

Leave a comment »

Playing the Blame Game

medium_317919851
photo credit: zen via photopin cc

It’s been the way of mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden. Man blames woman. Woman blames the serpent. It’s the blame game in full effect. Funny enough, despite efforts to “pass the buck”, all three were punished there in the Garden. All three had sinned against God indeed. Yet, when times get difficult, and we know they always do, it can be so easy to get into pointing fingers and assigning blame, and this can be a real marriage killer. I know…I’ve struggled with this one a lot over the years!

There are going to be trials and tribulations in life that are no one’s fault in particular, but we so often feel the need to blame each other and to consequently take our disappointments out on the “guilty” party. Sometimes the problem has been caused by one person’s bad choice. Instead of simply realizing that we all make mistakes and then picking up the pieces together, we come unleash our wrath and sometimes hold onto the issue far longer than what is necessary or prudent.

We had a funny example of this just the other night. We drove to a friend’s house and it was still somewhat light outside. I was driving. I parked the car, but I thought we were just running something in, so I left it at a funny angle and with the lights and everything on. We got out and were talking and our friends invited us in for a few minutes. My husband took the keys and went to roll up windows and turn off the car. We went inside, had a splendid time of fellowship, and when it was time to go we realized the car lights had been left on for the past hour or so.

We both immediately jumped to blame the other person. He blamed me because I had been the one driving. I blamed him because he had been the last person in the car. It was a funny little exchange that happened in those few seconds until my husband tried to start the car. Thank the Lord, it started without a problem! We were all relieved and even laughed later about our little blame game standoff.

This was a much lighter example than the hundreds we could discuss. Common reasons a spouse blames another include such troubling issues as: finances, child training, infertility, home maintenance and lack of family devotion time. We need to realize how damaging it is to our marriage and our family when we play the blame game. It can be quite serious. We are supposed to be on the same team. We are supposed to be cheering one another on and then comforting each other when we fall. Tearing each other down and pointing the finger only weakens ourselves. Here are some important concepts to remember next time you’re tempted to play the blame game:

1. We are all sinners and failures at some point. 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

2. We are one flesh, so blaming and tearing down our spouse is like doing it to ourselves.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

3. Blaming your man is not respectful.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

4. Pointing out your husband’s failures is not loving.

And so train the young women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:4

5. The blame game is bad for everyone in the home, including the children. It tears the home down and makes it weaker instead of stronger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

 

Instead of being one of those wives who is constantly pointing out where your husband is to blame for the problems you face, why not try being his helpmeet? The perfect helper wouldn’t point out the mistakes and assign blame, but rather comes alongside and helps pick up the pieces. She makes him look better – not worse. She ministers to him when he is disappointed in himself. She shares the burden, not passes it. She edifies him with her words and actions. This is the kind of wife I long to be. Praise the Lord that He continues to teach us.

 

Leave a comment »

Laughter is Excellent Medicine

Image
photo credit: fabbriciuse via photopin cc

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Oh the joy of laughter! I absolutely love to laugh. I love those amazing laughing fits where your tummy starts to hurt and tears are rolling down your cheeks because you are laughing so incredibly hard. I call that “laugh-crying”. I seriously love to laugh, and it’s a good thing too, because laughter is excellent medicine for the soul.

The verse above in Proverbs says that this virtuous woman that we look up to as a role model “laughs at the time to come”. While silly laughter is wonderful, this particular laughter isn’t the result of a good (or bad) joke. This woman isn’t giggling in a young, silly fashion. She is laughing because she is care-free when she peers into the future. You see, she has worked hard and had faith in the Lord, so she is not worried about what’s to come. When you’re not worried, you can laugh. When you laugh, it ministers to your soul and makes for a joyful atmosphere.

Our families need us to be women who can laugh at what’s to come. You see, the way they feel is intertwined with how we react to life. We give them an example and we wives and mommies usually set the tone in our home. If we worry, they will worry. If we are afraid, they will fear. If we are stressed, the stress will start to overtake them as well. Even a young child senses her mother’s emotions and takes them on. A worried mother will see that distress on the face of her child like a mirror reaction.

We need to laugh. The truth is, when we are in Christ, we have nothing to worry about. When we follow Him and devote our home ot Him, we need not fear the future. When we work hard and diligently and we leave the rest in the hands of the Father, we know our home will stand strong. So we can laugh at what’s to come. We can look boldly into the face of the future and laugh aloud knowing that nothing – NOTHING – can destroy a home built upon The Rock of Salvation, Jesus Christ! Amen?

God calls us to be hard workers. When we work hard to prepare our homes, as we read about in Proverbs 31, we can trust that God is going to take good care of us. The future doesn’t scare us. Whatever the Lord wills for our lives will transpire. He is in control. He knows the big picture. He will hold our home together if we are in Him.

You may step out onto your porch and see a storm brewing on the horizon. You see it coming. It may look fierce and cruel. It may seem cold and frightening. You can stand there, stare that storm boldly in the face and laugh until the tears come flowing down. You can laugh because no storm is stronger or more powerful than our big, mighty God. We have done our jobs well and God will preserve us through it so we trade worry for laughter. Our families are blessed. Our home is safe. Our God is glorified. Ah, excellent medicine indeed!

2 Comments »

Answering Critics of Home Education

Image

There will always be critics! There’s no way around it. People maintain a variety of opinions when it comes to whether or not homeschooling is a good choice. Some believe it’s a fine choice, but perhaps not the one for them. Others would say they doubt a child can get a well-rounded education at home. There are even some who think it’s downright neglect on the parents’ side. It’s important we are always ready to give a defense and explanation for our stance on homeschooling with confidence but also humility.

When it comes to answering the critics of home education, there are plenty of reasons I can give for our decision to educate our daughter at home. The challenge becomes being sensitive to the situation, knowing the motivations of the people you are talking to and being willing to tread carefully for the sake of not offending a friend. You see, what we have to remember is that most parents want to do the best thing for their child. A person who puts their child in public school usually sincerely believes it is what’s best for the child. Homeschoolers sincerely believe home education is what’s best for our children. The issue isn’t about who is a better parent or who cares more about the welfare of their children. We need to remember this when discussing our views with critics.

Causing division and strife over this topic is not necessary in most cases. If we need to argue and fight for homeschooling, the only time it’s truly beneficial is when we are defending our rights against the government who wants to take them away. When we are speaking to friends and family who simply aren’t on board with home education, don’t let it become an issue of anger and contentions. Here is a list of things to avoid saying and doing when in one of these conversations:

* Don’t be condescending. Share your opinions and views confidently but do not approach it arrogantly or with superiority.

* Don’t slam the public school system. You can share about the issues you have with public school without completely slamming it. Remember, that’s the school their kids may go to.

* Try to avoid getting easily offended. If a person shares that they don’t like homeschooling, don’t get super offended or emotional about it. Simply accept that it’s a different opinion and hold it together. Try not to take it personally.

* NEVER compare your children to other people’s children. It makes you come off as rude and self-righteous.

* Do not tell people that they should homeschool if they are “real” Christians. The Bible doesn’t say anything about home education versus public schooling. We believe that there are verses that encourage us to train up and educate our children, so it’s fine to believe that God wants you to homeschool, but never judge a person’s faith by whether or not they feel that same calling.

* Don’t go on and on with comments like, “homeschooled kids score so much higher on tests” and similar statements. You can share statistics if the need arises, but don’t bash people over the head with it. What they will hear behind your words is a subtext that says, “I think my kids are smarter than yours”. 

* Don’t roll your eyes or blow off their opinions. Allow others to share why they don’t like homeschooling and listen with respect. Don’t interrupt them or correct them in the middle of their sentences. Don’t tell them their opinions and feelings are wrong, but rather answer by sharing your own opinions and views. Arrogance is never appealing.

* Don’t allow anyone to make you feel you’ve made the wrong choice. This one was a bit different, but it’s important to remember that we home educate because we personally believe it’s what we are called to do. While it’s good to respect the opinions of others and walk in humility, don’t allow people or the enemy to put doubt in your mind. Revisit the reasons you have chosen to homeschool and pray when these thoughts arise.

How to Answer

Now that we have reviewed how to have a beneficial and mutually respectful conversation with someone who has differing views on home education, here are some quick answers that may be useful when the issue arises with a critic. The following are some of the most common objections they share:

1. Homeschooled kids are socially awkward.

There are some homeschooling kids that have a hard time socially. There are some public school kids that have a hard time. The social nature of the kids usually has more to do with the parents than how they are educated. Most homeschooling families today are involved with a multitude of extracurricular activities that involve social interactions with other kids, such as: sports, extra classes (sewing, cooking, building robots, etc.), music lessons/choir, debate clubs, 4H and other such clubs, community theater, and more. We also must remember that not all social interaction is positive. We want to prepare our children to a shining the light of Jesus to the world, but we don’t want to risk harming them by sending them out before they’re ready. Young children are more likely to be negatively influenced by bad social interaction than to be able to positively influence children who do not have the same moral compass/upbringing.

2. Homeschooled kids are not receiving proper education.

According to the National Education Centre, the percentage of American kids being homeschooled went up 18% between 2007 and 2012, so it appears to be a growing trend. The government considers it a valid choice in education, whether it be homeschooling entirely in the home or through charter school cooperations. The National Home Education Research Institute reports that children who are educated at home usually score 15 – 30% higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. What’s great about homeschooling is that kids learn at their own pace so truly no one is left behind. If they aren’t grasping a concept, you can spend more time on it or approach it from a different angle. If they have understood something, you can move on. They don’t have to wait for others before continuing forward. It’s also good to remember that most homeschoolers use great curriculum and textbooks. There are so many resources available. Most homeschoolers are receiving a top-notch education.

3. Homeschooling limits their opportunities for college and career.

Actually, homeschooled students do very well in college. Homeschooled teens also score in the above average range on their SATs and ACTs, according to NHERI. Colleges and universities are usually anxious to recruit home educated students for this reason and because college students who were homeschooled tend to be more likely to graduate. Many universities now have special pages on their website for home educators who are applying for admission. They doors are wide open.

4. Homeschooled kids must be miserable.

Most homeschooled kids are actually quite happy and content, though that’s a pretty general statement. The truth is, a vast majority of homeschooled children say that they would homeschool their own children someday. Rarely will a child brought up in homeschooling ever respond that they wish they could go to public school. Now, children who are removed from public school and placed into home education may struggle more with missing some of the aspects of the public school setting. However, most make the transition smoothly. Generally speaking, homeschooled children are happy and love home education.

 5. Homeschooled kids are indoctrinated with Christian beliefs.

This is an interesting topic because the truth is that all children are being “indoctrinated” with some kind of views. Christians are teaching their children from birth that Jesus is the God of the Bible and the only way to salvation. Atheists are probably teaching their kids from birth that there is no God. Public schools are indoctrinating the kids too by teaching the theory and religion of evolution as fact, but neglecting to explain it is a theory and that there are other theories. So, as Christians, if my child is going to be indoctrinated with anything, I want it to be the things of God and His Word. However, we join most homeschoolers in saying we don’t plan to raise ignorant children. Most home educators teach their children all about evolution, except it is rightly called the “theory of evolution” and is taught as a differing view from the account of creation we have in the Bible. Many Christian kids in the public school setting are being taught old-earth evolution as if it were proven fact, which it is not and can never be. So many times the kids simply file the concepts away, never discuss them with their parents, and therefore even the most involved and careful parents are sometimes unaware of what their kids are being taught. Since students are told to trust and believe their teachers without question, they simply file it away as fact. This is something that Christian public schoolers always must be on their toes about.

There are plenty of other objections and answers to go through, but these are just a handful of quick responses that I usually give in the face of criticism. Just remember that with the same degree that we want our friends and family to accept our position on homeschooling, we need to be respectful regarding their choice to public school. Being arrogant, condescending and prideful about home education won’t help others to see our perspective. They will simply walk off offended. This can be a sensitive subject because we are dealing with our precious kiddos, so let’s respect one another and do what we feel is the right thing for our kids.

photo credit: pellethepoet via photopin cc

Leave a comment »

When There’s Not Enough Hours in the Day

Image

Some days there are simply not enough hours to complete the tasks that I have on my list. Perhaps it’s better said that there are too many tasks for the number of hours I have available to me, but it feels like the other way around! A typical day includes cooking, cleaning, bathing, disciplining, shopping (groceries is all!), cleaning again (because the house is never clean for long!), teaching music lessons, writing, ministry, cleaning some more, spending time in the Word of God, homeschooling and hopefully getting some family time in before we collapse into lumps on the bed.

Being a wife any mommy is a hard job. If you have to work on top of that, it can be crazy. I work from home, but I still have to pour hours into my work. I have students to the house most days therefore the house always needs to be tidy. There is just so much to do and yet not enough time.

I’ve sometimes looked at my friends and wondered how they have time to do extra things, like baking, gardening, crafting and more. I’ve wondered how they do it? How are their houses always immaculate? How do they have time? How can I have time too? The truth is, there’s no point in looking at the lives of other people and comparing it to your own. It only leads to discontentment and sometimes jealousy.

So what do we do when there’s not enough hours in the day? We need to relax! That’s right…you heard me sister! Relax! I used to think if I didn’t accomplish all my tasks everyday that I was failing. I was a failure as a wife and mommy. Well that kind of thinking is a lie that the enemy uses to get us down. Who’s to say the house has to be perfect all of the time? Where’s the rule that says I can’t take some time off to do something fun, like gardening, and let something else slide for the day? There are tasks we obviously need to do everyday, but sometimes it’s okay to let something go. No need to feel guilt about it.

What we all need to do is evaluate our priorities. I can spend my whole day doing housework, writing, editing, teaching, homeschooling, etc. and find myself completely worn out at the end of the day only to realize I’ve spent very little time with the Lord or really being “with” my family. My daughter is an only child (by the Lord’s planning). On those days when I’m running all day because I want everything to be done perfectly, I look at her face and realize I’m missing out on what matters most to me in the world. The house will be messy again tomorrow (or in a few hours in my house). I don’t want to miss out on the time with my daughter, nor for her to feel that I don’t have time for her.

So when there’s not enough hours in the day, I throw in the towel and I don’t beat myself up about it anymore. What’s not done today may be accomplished tomorrow. If I’ve spent quality time with my husband and daughter, and I’ve spent time with Jesus, and I’ve met my most pressing responsibilities, I can call it a day well spent and let it be.

3 Comments »

Faithfully Fighting Lyme

Fighting Lyme Disease through the power of the living God

Faithful Lyme Warrior

Fighting Lyme Disease by the power of the Living God

Color Me Lyme

Blathering | Healing | Living Joyfully

easone13

A fine WordPress.com site

Kristeen Nicole Gillooly

Sharing the love of God through music. My voice, His message. Join the conversation.

Life Is A Beautiful Mess

A glimpse into the mess of life and the beauty of grace.

A Brunette's Reflection

Unprofessional Relationship Councilor, WannaBe World Traveler, Trial and Error Cook, and Almost Famous Whatchamacallit