Would You Have Done It?

Recently, I went outside for a bit at night… the stars were out, and there was one (a planet, probably) that was especially bright. It brought to mind the star that shown when Jesus was born… and I remembered the movie “The Nativity”– particularly the part where Mary agrees to carry Christ in her womb.

And I wondered… would I have done it? Would I have said yes? Would I have agreed to be laughed at, to be shunned, to be thought impure and foolish? Would I have agreed to lay down my reputation? My way of life? Would I have agreed to give up my friends? My family, in a way? Would I have agreed to risk being killed for a perceived action? Would I have agreed to look completely foolish for something I really had no way of knowing the end of?

Or would I have been too concerned with myself, with my image? Would I have been too concerned about appearing pure and blameless? Would I have been too scared to face the shame and mockery?

I don’t know, honestly. I might very well have said, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard, that’s not a good idea, what will everyone think?”

(Though, of course, I’ve never talked to an angel. That might put a bit of a different light on the matter.)

Listen to Mary’s response after her initial questioning…

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

Simple. So simple. And so full of trust and surrender. She knew who she was– and, more importantly, who God was. And she let God do what He wanted with her. She was willing to be considered impure and insane for God’s sake and at His word.

And think… think what a blessing she gained. What a blessing we gained! It didn’t make a bit of sense, at the time. But now, looking back on it all… it makes so much sense we rarely see how crazy it was.

Of course Mary had Jesus. We’ve heard it over and over.

But… there really was a girl. A girl. Named Mary. Scared, clueless. She couldn’t see what would happen. And yet she opened herself up to God. She… let Him… make her look foolish in the world’s eyes.

And… she is now most blessed among women.

How could she do it? We really don’t know a whole lot about her. But then… we don’t need to know a whole lot. What she did, on its own, says volumes. The fact that God chose her says tons. And then… we have her song. Listen to her heart…

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

What do you notice?

I see… a heart totally enthralled with God. And very much not focused on herself. I don’t know about you, but if God chose me to do that… I don’t think I would be saying things about my “low estate”… I would be thinking more along the lines of, wow, I must be pretty good to have been chosen. 😛

All her focus is on God and the great things He has done for her. And at this point she still probably didn’t really know what exactly what was going on!

Wow…

Seriously, think about it, my fellow Good Christian Girls. Don’t we want to be known for our purity and our wonderfulness? I do.

But… it isn’t about us. It’s about God. And you know… the thing about God is… He loves doing things completely backwards from the world’s thinking.

Mary was humbled, and then glorified. Sounds an awful lot like… her Son. And it doesn’t make any sense, really….

Think about the way He came to earth. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator Himself… coming as a baby?? Surely, at least, He would come as baby to some good home–but no! He came appearing as an illegitimate child!? And think how He conquered death and sin and satan!! By… dying, naked, on a cross?? It doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking.

Guess who hated Jesus the most? The religious leaders. The Good Church People.

Guess who most hates sold-out-for-Christ, Spirit-filled Christians– the ones who don’t care a particle what the world thinks? . . . Yeah. You know already.

“Can’t they like… tone it down? Do they have to be SO different?? Can’t they… blend in a little? Must they really be so radical? Do they have to do such strange things?”

Face, folks. Following Christ whole-heartedly gets our sanity questioned. It might even lose us the respect of the Good Christian People we know.

Do we really suppose that following a Man who upset the the religious institution in just about every way possible, the Man who ate with sinners, the Man who was perfect and yet died a criminal’s death, the Man who…. basically did everything differently from others… will be easy and normal and well accepted?

What does it actually mean to follow this Man? We sing “I have decided to follow Jesus”… but what does it mean? What is the cost?

Are we really willing to accept the ridicule and the shame and the hardship and the suffering and the being misunderstood?

Are we willing to follow Him… all the way?

He died, you know. It says deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

The cross isn’t some cute little symbol. It isn’t just a charm on a necklace.

It’s an instrument of humiliation… and death.

Death.

Really? Are you sure this is the One you want to follow? Are you sure you want to carry a cross? Am I?

Are we willing to be humbled as He was? To make ourselves of no reputation? To count all this as loss, that we might gain Christ? To… die? To this world, to ourselves… or literally.

Is it worth it? Is it worth giving up everything to follow Him?

Oh… I hope and pray my answer is yes.

Not my answer here. Not my words. My life. The Answer.

For what good would it be, if I gained the whole world and kept my reputation… and yet… lost my soul? What good would it be to be known by men, but… not to know God or be known by Him? What good would it be to have man’s favor, and… not God’s? What good would it be… to get to heaven and say, well everyone said I was such a sweet, quiet girl–And yet… have missed out on the fullness of God wanted to do through me?

Am I worth holding on to? Is my reputation that important? Are my desires and ideas that much better than His?

No. No, not at all.

He… gave up everything. Everything. For God’s glory. For me.

How… HOW can I do less? I must not, I will not, I cannot.

Help me, God.

[E] Would You Have Done It?

Recently, I went outside for a bit at night… the stars were out, and there was one (a planet, probably) that was especially bright. It brought to mind the star that shown when Jesus was born… and I remembered the movie “The Nativity”– particularly the part where Mary agrees to carry Christ in her womb.

And I wondered… would I have done it? Would I have said yes? Would I have agreed to be laughed at, to be shunned, to be thought impure and foolish? Would I have agreed to lay down my reputation? My way of life? Would I have agreed to give up my friends? My family, in a way? Would I have agreed to risk being killed for a perceived action? Would I have agreed to look completely foolish for something I really had no idea about how it would end?

Or would I have been too concerned with myself, with my image? Would I have been too concerned about appearing pure and blameless? Would I have been too scared to face the shame?

I don’t know, honestly. I might very well have said, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard, that’s not a good idea, what will everyone think?”

(Though, of course, I’ve never talked to an angel. That might put a bit of a different light on the matter.)

Listen to Mary’s response after her initial questioning…

38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Simple. So simple. And so full of trust and surrender. She knew who she was and who God was. And she let God do what He wanted with her. She was willing to be considered impure and insane for God’s sake and at His word.

And think… think what a blessing she gained. And what a blessing we gained! It didn’t make a bit of sense, at first. But now, looking back on it all… it makes so much sense we rarely see how crazy it was.

Of course Mary had Jesus. We’ve heard it over and over.

But… there really was a girl. A girl. Named Mary. Scared, clueless. She couldn’t see what would happen. And yet she opened herself up to God. She… let Him… make her look foolish in the world’s eyes.

And… she is now most blessed among women.

Humbled, and then glorified. Sounds an awful lot like… her Son.

How could she do it? We really don’t know a whole lot about her. But then… we don’t need to know a whole lot. What she did, on its own, says volumes. The fact that God chose her says tons. And then… we have her song. Listen to her heart…

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

What do you notice?

I see… a heart totally enthralled with God. And very much not focused on herself. I don’t know about you, but if God chose me to do that… I don’t think I would be saying things about my “low estate”… I would be thinking more along the lines of, wow, I must be pretty good to have been chosen. 😛

All her focus is on God and the great things He has done for her. And at this point she still probably didn’t really know what exactly what was going on!

Wow…

Seriously, think about it, my fellow Good Christian Girls. Don’t we want to be known for our purity and our wonderfulness? I do.

But… it isn’t about us. It’s about God. And you know… the thing about God is… He loves doing things completely backwards from the world’s thinking.

Think about the way He came to earth. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator Himself… coming as a baby?? Surely, at least, He would come as baby to some good home–but no! He came appearing as an illegitimate child!? And think how He conquered death and sin and satan!! By… dying, naked, on a cross?? It doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking.

Guess who hated Jesus the most? The religious leaders. The Good Church People.

Guess who most hates sold-out-for-Christ, Spirit-filled Christians– the ones who don’t care a particle what the world thinks? . . . Yeah. You know already.

“Can’t they like… tone it down? Do they have to be SO different?? Can’t they… blend in a little? Must they really be so radical? Do they have to do such strange things?”

Face, folks. Following Christ whole-heartedly gets our sanity questioned. It might even lose us the respect of the Good Christian People we know.

Do we really suppose that following a Man who upset the the religious institution in just about every way possible, the Man who ate with sinners, the Man who was perfect and yet died a criminal’s death, the Man who…. basically did everything differently from others… will be easy and normal and well accepted?

What does it actually mean to follow this Man? We sing “I have decided to follow Jesus”… but what does it mean? What is the cost?

Are we really willing to accept the ridicule and the shame and the hardship and the suffering and the being misunderstood?

Are we willing to follow Him… all the way? He died, you know.It says take up your cross.

The cross isn’t some cute little symbol. It isn’t just a charm on a necklace.

It’s an instrument of death.

Death.

Really? Are you sure this is the One you want to follow? Are you sure you want to carry a cross? Am I?

Are we willing to be humbled as He was? To make ourselves of no reputation? To count all this as loss, that we might gain Christ? To… die? To this world, to ourselves… or literally.

Is it worth it? Is it worth giving up everything to follow Him?

Oh… I hope and pray my answer is yes.

Not my answer here. Not my words. My life. The Answer.

For what good would it be, if I gained the whole world and kept my reputation… and yet… lost my soul? What good would it be to be known by men, but… not to know God or be known by Him? What good would it be to have man’s favor, and… not God’s? What good would it be… to get to heaven and say, well everyone said I was such a sweet, quiet girl–And yet… have missed out on the fullness of God wanted to do through me?

Am I worth holding on to? Is my reputation that important? Are my desires and ideas that much better than His?

No. No, not at all.

He… gave up everything. Everything. For God’s glory. For me.

How… HOW can I do less? I must not, I will not, I cannot.

Help me, God.

{RD}Would You Have Done it?

Earlier this evening, I went outside for a bit… the stars were out, and there was one (a planet, probably) that was especially bright. It brought to my mind the star that shown when Jesus was born… and I remembered the movie “The Nativity”, particularly the part where Mary agrees to carry Christ.

And I wondered… would I have done it? Would I have said yes? Would I have agreed to be laughed at, to be shunned, to be thought impure and foolish? Would I have agreed to lay down my reputation? Would I have agreed to give up my friends? My family, in a way? Would I have agreed to risk being killed for a perceived action? Would I have agreed to look completely foolish for something I really had no idea about how it would end?

Or would I have been too concerned with myself, with my image? Would I have been too concerned about appearing pure and blameless? Would I have been too scared to face the shame?

I don’t know, honestly. I might very well have said I can’t do it, it’s too hard, that’s not a good idea, what will everyone think?

(Though of course, I’ve never talked to an angel. That might put a bit of a different light on the matter.)

Listen to Mary’s response after her initial questioning…

38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Simple. So simple. But so full of trust and surrender. She knew who she was and who God was. And she let God do what He willed with her. She was willing to be considered impure and insane for God’s sake and at His word.

And think… think what a blessing she gained. We gained! It didn’t make a bit of sense, at first. But now, looking back on it all… it makes so much sense we rarely see how crazy it was. Of course Mary had Jesus. We’ve heard it over and over.

But… there really was a girl. A girl. Named Mary. Scared, clueless. She couldn’t see what would happen. And yet she opened herself up to God. She… let Him… make her look foolish in the world’s eyes.

And… she is now most blessed among women. (among women, that’s all…)

Humbled, and then glorified. Sounds an awful lot like… her Son.

How could she do it? We really don’t know a whole lot about her. But then… we don’t need to know a whole lot. What she did, on its own, says volumes. The fact that God chose her says tons. And then… we have her song. Listen to her heart…

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

What do you notice?

I see… a heart totally enthralled with God. And very much not focused on herself. I don’t know about you, but if God chose me to do that… I don’t think I would be saying things about my “low estate”… I would be thinking more along the lines of, wow, I must be pretty good to have been chosen. 😛

All her focus is on God and the great things He has done for her. And at this point she still probably didn’t really know what exactly what was going on!

Wow…

Seriously, think about it, my fellow Good Christian Girls. Don’t we want to be known for our purity and our wonderfulness? I do.

But… it isn’t about us. It’s about God. And you know… the thing about God is… He loves doing things completely backwards from the world’s thinking.

Think about the way He came to earth. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator Himself… coming as a baby?? And then not just a baby to a good home, but He came appearing as an illegitimate child?? And think how He conquered death and sin and satan!! By… dying, naked, on a cross??

Guess who hated Jesus the most? The religious leaders. The good church people.

Guess who most hates sold out for Christ, Spirit-filled Christians who don’t care a particle what the world thinks? … Yeah. You know already.

Can’t they like… tone it down? Do they have to be SO different?? Can’t they… blend in a little? Must they really be so radical? Do they have to do such strange things?

Face, folks. Following Christ whole-heartedly gets our sanity questioned. It might even lose us the respect of the Good Christian People we know.

Do we really suppose that following a Man who upset the the religious institution in just about every way possible, the Man who ate with sinners, the Man who was perfect and yet died a criminal’s death, the Man who…. basically did everything differently from others… will be easy and normal and well accepted?

What does it actually mean to follow this Man? We sing “I have decided to follow Jesus”… but what does it mean?

Are we really willing to accept the ridicule and the shame and the hardship and the suffering and the being misunderstood?

Are we willing to follow Him… all the way? He died, you know. It says take up your cross. The cross isn’t a pretty little symbol. It isn’t just a charm on a necklace.

It’s an instrument of death.

Death.

Really? Are you sure this is the One you want to follow? Am I?

Are we willing to be humbled as He was? To make ourselves of no reputation? To… die? To count all this as loss, that we might gain Christ?

Is it worth it? Is it worth giving up everything to follow Him?

Oh… I hope and pray my answer is yes. Not my answer here. Not my words. My life. The Answer.

For what good would it be, if I gained the whole world and kept my reputation… and yet… lost my soul? What good would it be to be known by men, but… not to know God or be known by Him? What good would it be to have man’s favor, and… not God’s? What good would it be… to get to heaven and say, well everyone said I was such a sweet, quiet girl… And yet… have missed out on the fullness of God wanted to do through me?

Am I worth holding on to? Is my reputation that important? Are my desires and ideas that much better than His?

No. No, not at all.

He… gave up everything. Everything. For God’s glory. For me.

How… HOW can I do less? I must not, I will not, I cannot.

Help me, God.

January…

It’s January, again.

I distinctly remember the last two Januaries… The first one, I was helping a mom with three children almost daily for the whole month. And last January I took an internet fast… Both of which experiences changed me quite a bit.

January.

What month… we stand here, on the brink of a whole new year. It stretches before us: unknown, mysterious, many days lie untouched as of yet.

We have ideas, plans, hopes, fears for this thing called a year… We may think we know what it holds–more of the same, perhaps, or we have some adventures planned.

But do we really know? No… not really. There remains mystery; plot twists we have no way of seeing from where we stand, here in the month named January.

It’s an interesting, scary, exciting month… especially for me, it seems. Again, this year… big things are happening. Things I would never have imagined last January.

And standing here, in the first few days of a brand new January, I have no idea how the rest of this month–this year– will go.

But God knows. And in that, I can rest.

{RD}The Permanent Marker

I had a magazine open in front of me; just a normal magazine–a business one, perhaps. Looking through it, I couldn’t help myself… I grabbed a black permanent marker and started helping these girls out a bit with their clothes, all the while ranting in my head. There were far too many clothes that needed help. And this was just a business magazine!!

No, I didn’t need to do that. Sure, maybe it’s extreme. But… I have to do something. And I don’t want my little brothers to happen on a magazine like that and then struggle with the images.

It frustrates me badly, the way immodesty is so rampant in our society… And not only that, but the attitude towards modesty. If I tell people outright that they need to start dressing more modestly, and that immodesty is a sin, most likely I’m going to get in trouble. There are plenty of excuses for immodesty, plenty of comebacks.

“The guys just need to learn to control themselves. It’s not our problem.”

Yes, the guys need to control themselves.

But… Imagine with me that you were addicted to chocolate–very very addicted. It was a major part of your diet, something you craved intensely. And you were trying to stop eating it, because you were told it was bad for you. But everywhere you turned, there was chocolate. Opened up, ready to eat. Everywhere. Surrounding you. Yummy, smooth, sweet smelling. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts in it… you try and try to resist, but it’s there, always there. Taunting you, calling you. So good. Just a little wouldn’t hurt, would it?

How long do you suppose you’d be able to resist that?? Don’t you think it would be helpful if you could get away from the chocolate? If it wasn’t right there in front of you constantly?

The girls also have a responsibility… And that is to keep the secrets of their beauty for marriage.

Seriously, which do you think is harder: picking out clothes (searching high and low. :P) that are modest–or fighting a constant battle in your mind against something that seems so good and is so available?

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have the first battle than the latter, and I very much want to help my brothers who have to fight that fierce battle in their minds.

“It’s just fashion.”

So… fashion trumps God’s word?

“I just want to look cute for my girl friends.”

Um…. unless you are going to a place where there are ONLY girls… I don’t really get the logic here. 😛 Just because you’re dressing to impress female friends does not mean that the males suddenly go blind.

“Everyone else dresses like this!”

So? Not only is that not true, but even if it were… even if everyone else in the entire world was doing the wrong thing… it would still be the wrong thing. Right and wrong is not something we take a poll on, contrary to popular belief. It’s based on God’s word. If we are followers of Christ, it’s our job to do just that–follow Christ. Not the world. Not every one else.

“I’m not as bad as the other girls.”

Again, so? Would you take that answer from a guy? “Well at least I’m just into porn, I’m not raping anyone!”  Just because our sins are less… dramatic than theirs doesn’t mean they are any less sin.

“It’s just too hard!”

Worthwhile things are hard. Get over it. Do hard things! 😀 And again, I think it’s much easier to pick out clothes–something tangible and much easier to control–than fight wrong thoughts. So be grateful.

“Now you are getting all legalistic on me!”

*sigh* That’s always the thing Christians love to bring up. May I direct your attention to… This Post on legalism. Much better than if I tried to explain it. 😀

{RD}A New World…

Just about three years ago, I entered a new world. At least, that’s what I remember thinking of it as… I started my first blog, then called “Lily of the Valley”. (Now it’s called “Adventures of the Mann Family”)

I remember wondering what would happen… what kind of impact I’d have, what sort of people I’d meet, what it would do to me.

Three years in, and… wow. What a lot has happened; things I never would’ve imagined.

I ended up finally deciding to join the Rebelution forums, after much thought and prayer. I’m not sure why it was such a huge decision for me… perhaps because I’d never joined a forum before, or perhaps because the sign up form is rather daunting if you take it seriously. At any rate, I joined. I remember looking around at the different groups–particularly the Attic moderators– and wondering if I’d ever be in one of those or if it was even possible to join.

Lo and behold, several months later, I found myself helping lead a cafe study on the book Don’t Waste Your Life. Through that I made quite a few new friends… and had the novel experience of being able to talk to young people who also *gasp* had a vision for their lives and a love for God.

And not too long after that, I was promoted to Editor, and from there, Attic Moderator. To my surprise, I was just about the only active Attic mod… which meant there was plenty to do. o.0 And, homeschooler style, I figured it out and did it, asking questions and making mistakes as I went. That was a big aspect of my online life for the first while…

There was also Holy Worlds: a forum just starting up. I was the only other team member at the time I joined… The Editor. I watched and helped, on and off, as HW grew up into an amazing, God-glorifying community of writers. At first, I wasn’t terribly excited about the forum… but now, when I tell people about it and about all the things God has done through it, I get so excited I become slightly short of breath. 😀

I decided to start another blog, this one on blogger… (Rejoice Always) and then have started numerous other blogs here and there.

I’ve been blessed to be a part of many different projects and such things… had plenty of chances to edit (yay!) for various people… so many things.

I’ve learned tons, grown tons, been blessed tons.

As to the people… ahem. 😀 The people have been wonderful, weird, inspiring, funny, helpful, convicting, supportive… crazy. 😀

A few people that I’ve known the longest and best would be:

Allison Whisler
Rebeka Fry
Andrea Powell
Hannah Lenover
Jay Lauser
Katie Daniels
Brendan Hanley
Sian Jones
Holly Hutcheson
Daniel Osborne

And there have been and are many others…

It’s been a very unique experience; having genuine friends–especially ones I’ve never met. It’s odd… a lot of people would suppose that online friendships would be among the more superficial and less helpful… but, at least in the circles I’ve been in, that hasn’t been the case. I am used to people in real life only being “sometimes friends”… not really sticking to me. (which, though it isn’t really an excuse, is part of the reason that I have on occasion seemed to abandon y’all… I’m just not used to people actually wanting to talk to me and be my friend. :P) But some of the people I’ve met on here… they stick. 😛 😀 God has really blessed me in this way… and I’m very thankful. Even when I don’t talk to you much… I’m so very grateful you’re there and think and pray for you often. 🙂

How has it changed me… oh, I don’t even know all how. 😛 There have been both positive and negative changes…

I’ve definitely improved my writing and typing skills… I’ve become more adept at explaining and expressing myself, both on and off the computer… I’ve become more open, in some ways… I’ve gained much useful experience in dealing with people and doing various computer things… I’ve come to know God more, through conversations I’ve had… I’ve learned a great deal more words… I’ve become more aware of the hurts of others… I’ve learned more about how to lead… I’ve become a better editor… many things about me have grown and changed for the good.

Some things, though… have not been so good. My family has seen less of me, which has caused hurts and other troubles. I’ve been distracted from my other projects and things I needed to do. I’ve wasted time on here…

I don’t know what I would’ve done differently, honestly… what’s past is past, and I will take the good and learn from the bad.