A Little Gossip Goes a Long Way

24 01 2008

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Copyright 2008 Kelsey Hough.  All Rights Reserved.

I’d only been home for two days, but my answering machine was already cluttered with messages of “Call me back ASAP” from Jen.  Since her voice sounded more like a giggly girl at a slumber party than someone in the middle of a crisis, I wrote “Call Jen” on a sticky note and continued with my unpacking.  I’d call her after I’d run a load of whites.

Apparently, she just couldn’t wait for me to dig my smelly socks out of the blue duffle bag and track down a bottle of bleach, because before the rinse cycle was underway, the phone rang.  She asked a few pleasantries — if the airplane food was as gross as normal, whether I’d enjoyed the conference — before cutting to the chase.

“So?” said the enthusiastic voice on the other end of the line. “Tell me about him!”

I mentally flipped through files of friends and acquaintances trying to decipher who the elusive him was before finally just asking what on earth she was talking about.

“Oh, you know who I mean, Kelsey.” She obviously thought I was being coy.

I wondered if she’d confused my life with someone else’s, perhaps someone from one of those soap operas I pride myself on never watching.  Or maybe it was a side effect from a Pride and Prejudice overdose.  Who knows?

“There isn’t any guy to tell you about,” I said.

The last him of any interest whatsoever had been a fellow I’d met briefly while at the conference, who I’d never mentioned to Jen because it wasn’t worth mentioning.  After all, we hadn’t even swapped MySpaces, let alone phone numbers.

The Grapevine in Action

While I’d been gone, I’d briefly mentioned chatting with Conference Dude in a short email to a friend of mine who had happed to mention it to one of our mutual friends.  This gal then, I later discovered, told Jen I was dating someone I’d only just met.  And Jen immediately stretched the story in her own mind from dating to matrimony.  By the time I got home and was attempting to do my laundry in peace, the story had grown so much you’d have thought they’d drenched it with Miracle Grow; it wasn’t even recognizable as my life.

Jen — disappointed to discover there wasn’t going to be a summer wedding (or spring, fall or winter for that matter) — said with a sigh, “Oh, and I was looking forward to the wedding.”

It’s Not a Game

Gossip spreads like wildfire; even something as mundane as, “I talked with an interesting guy over coffee,” can easily turn into, “I’m getting married this summer to someone I only just met, and didn’t bother to tell you.”  As fast as the gossip chain I encountered moved, hurtful gossip moves at light speed in comparison.

With a single sentence a person’s entire reputation can be ripped to shreds beyond possible repair.  Because of this, the fact that the only temporary modification my own reputation underwent was that a few gossipy ladies, who didn’t have their facts straight, thought I bordered on being a bit reckless when it came to romance, it seems like I got off easy.

Thanks to the gossip chain, I almost ended up with a few extra toasters.  But usually gossip does a lot more damage than that.  Without anyone even intending any harm, gossip easily destroys lives, friendships and reputations, and at the very least, gossip confuses people and shares intimate details of other people’s lives without their permission.

“If anyone considers himself religious,” James says in his epistle, “and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)  Controlling our tongues and choosing not to gossip are not simply good manners, they’re even evidence our faith is genuine because we’re putting it into action.

 
Repeating gossip in any form is like messing around with a loaded gun aimed at someone else’s reputation, and it’s not something we should ever play around with.  It might tickle a child’s fancy to play with a loaded gun, but even if he never meant to hurt anyone, the simple act of playing with it can do unthinkable damage.

In the same way, if you play with gossip, someone else and their reputation will get hurt.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

21 01 2008

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s easy to be opinionated and vocal about our views when there isn’t anything at stake, and it doesn’t really matter.  But very few of us are usually willing to speak up, like Dr. Martin Luther King did, about things that are truly a matter of right and wrong.

I know for myself, it’s not only a matter of choosing not to be silent, though, it’s also a matter of learning to have the wisdom and maturity to know the difference between the things like justice, freedom and equality that are worth fighting for, even worth dying for, and my own personal pet peeves.

May we all have the maturity to pick our battles wisely, and the strength to never keep silent about things that truly matter.     





The Cow That Ate Baby Jesus

10 12 2007

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Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All Rights Reserved. 

Paper snowflakes and candy canes hung from the ceiling, the windows were now the stage for two dimensional holiday scenes, and a small, wooden nativity sat in a corner.  It was just about as festive and tacky as a two-year-old Sunday school classroom can be in the middle of December … and the kids loved it.

The majority of my small class played with the wooden nativity scene as they acted out the Christmas story — with some minor artistic licensing, unless of course, there was a Lego family and a T-Rex present at Jesus’ birth.

“Teacher, do cows eat this stuff?” asked Nate, a cute little boy who was playing with a black and white dairy cow, holding up a few pieces of hay in his chubby hand.  I said that, “Yes, cows do eat hay.”  So the plastic cow continued munching away on the hay in the feeding trough where the little, wooden baby Jesus was sleeping.

As Nate looked down at the toy bovine towering over the manger, panic suddenly shot through his whole body like a bolt of electricity.  He dropped the diary cow as if he was holding a smoking gun, and asked in a small, shaky voice, “Uh, teacher Kelsey?  Was… uh… baby Jesus eaten by a cow?”

Like a mature and competent Sunday school teacher, rather than laughing, I replied in a confident voice, “No, baby Jesus wasn’t eaten by a cow, Nate. He wasn’t eaten by anything.”

Nate shot another look of horror and fear at the plastic cow as he wailed, “I think baby Jesus was eaten by a cow!” The cow conversation had just begun, but I already knew I was fighting a losing battle.

From Crayons to Chaos 

As Nate’s cry reached the ears of all the other two-year-olds — who’d been happily playing with the Mary, Joseph and T-Rex — their lips began to quiver as they stared with fear and disgust at the black and white baby-eating cow who’d committed the unthinkable act of eating baby Jesus. The looks on their little faces was comparable to if they’d just been told their dear, old grandmother was an axe murderer.

Knowing more tears and hysteria were on the way, I tried explaining to my group of little alarmists how we know Jesus wasn’t eaten by a cow when he was a baby, because he grew up into an adult; he didn’t stay “baby Jesus.” But after that didn’t work, we had an educational discussion about the differences between carnivores and herbivores, and how, because cows don’t eat meat, they also don’t eat babies.

Vegetarian cows chewing their cud rather than gnawing on sleeping, innocent babies consoled most of them, and in a couple of minutes, you’d have never known my entire two-year-old Sunday school class had been on the brink of hysteria only a few minutes before.

While the rest of the class discussed their Christmas lists, Nate, who still wasn’t ready to let the subject go, asked earnestly, “But, Teacher, what if the cow didn’t see baby Jesus?”

Since, as we’d just discussed, babies weren’t a regular part of a cow’s diet, Nate was convinced that some absentminded cow the size of a house, might have accidentally eaten Jesus.  Because after all, Jesus was sleeping in the cows’ food dish.

A Bovine-Free Christmas Story  

It’s been several years since the “cow incident,” but I still can’t help wondering if Nate has an unexplainable fear of cows. At the very least, I highly doubt he’ll ever be a diary farmer.

What a horrible Christmas story it would’ve been if Jesus hadn’t survived “barn life”: God loved the world so much he actually left all the five star comforts of Heaven to live on our dysfunctional, germ infested little rock, but sadly, He forgot to take into account the giant, baby-eating, dairy cows, so God became lunch for a hungry, absentminded cow. Thankfully, though, Jesus didn’t end up stuck in some cow’s teeth.

Emanuel, God with us, came to be the light into the world, to bring redemption and hope.  And no, he wasn’t eaten by a cow; not even accidentally.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





Book Review: Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

6 11 2007

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Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

Because there are so many relational/purity books in print, I think it’s easy for Christian singles desiring a Biblical world view regarding romance and purity to feel at a loss of where to even start reading.  Most of us don’t have the time, money, or desire to wade through a stack or relational/purity books looking for a few diamonds in the rough.

So where do you start if you’d like a thoughtful introduction to romantic relationships?  I believe Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control is an excellent starting point for both singles and dating/courting couples desiring to, as the subtitle says, bring their love lives under Christ’s control.

In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot honestly and openly shares with the reader the story and lessons learned from her five-year courtship with Jim Elliot while addressing topics such as dealing with loneliness and impatience, how we’re to view singleness, putting God’s desires ahead of your own, men and women’s relational roles, the importance of purity, and much more.

I appreciate the fact that although Elisabeth Elliot talks candidly about purity and relationships, the way she addresses these topics is never inappropriate, so a preteen could read Passion and Purity without losing a piece of their purity and innocence in the process, and a single adult could read it without feeling talked down to.

Unlike some relational/purity books, Passion and Purity never makes the mistake of over-spiritualizing romance and relationships, but Elisabeth Elliot also makes it evident through sharing personal stories and journal entries she does understand from personal experience the joys and pains of singleness.

I originally read Passion and Purity in early high school.  It was one of the first books I read on the subject of purity and relationships, and I found it challenging, thought-provoking and encouraging.  I’ve since reread it several times, and in each new stage of life, I’ve found it just as applicable.

Passion and Purity has remainded my personal favorite relational/purity book on the market, and one I regularly recommend to other Christian singles.  If you haven’t read it, I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a whirl.

Recommended Age: 13+

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





Charles Spurgeon on Our Reasonable Service

20 09 2007

 

“A man who is really saved by grace does not need to be told that he is under solemn obligations to serve Christ. The new life within him tells him that. Instead of regarding it as a burden, he gladly surrenders himself–body, soul, and spirit–to the Lord who has redeemed him, reckoning this to be his reasonable service.” ~Charles Spurgeon





Thoughts on Modern Worship

14 09 2007

 

Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough. All rights reserved.

For the past few years, sadly, I’ve been far from impressed with the Christian concerts I’ve attended. The concerts have been everything from the small unknown local bands, to the ones whose songs dominate most young church goers’ CD players, and some in-between.

At one concert I was at, after the electric guitar solo and light show had ended, the lead singer decided to give an altar call, but he failed to even mention sin and the importance of the Cross, so it turned into a “God Wants to be Your Buddy” talk. I was left wondering if the man had come to a saving knowledge of God, himself.

“Christian” Concerts

At other concerts, there have been big, burly men — who looked like bouncers at a wild night club — whose sole job was to separate the “worshipers” from each other so they don’t hurt someone.

And there are always the hysterical teenage girls who scream about how “hot” the band members are throughout the evening, and then chatter later about what an amazing “worship” experience it was. I do concur that they did spend the evening worshiping, but rather than worshiping the King of Glory, they sang and screamed for the people on the stage. They “worshiped and served the created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1: 25)

The numbers at these “Christian” events seem to showcase how Christianity itself is morphing into something which closely resembles the MTV culture — materialistic, self-absorbed, lust-saturated, and run and operated by a few rock stars on a stage, rather than by men and women of spiritual maturity. It isn’t the music industry, specifically, that I find heartbreaking. It’s modern Christianity on a whole, and it just manifests more fully in concert settings.

Set Apart

When did Christianity and worship stop being about Jesus Christ dying for us, and become about Consumerism, instead?

As a Christian, I’ve been called to be set apart, but the modern church is on its way to becoming nothing more than the sanitized version of what’s around it — the PG version of an MTV world. God doesn’t want fans, He wants disciples – people who are willing to pick up their cross and follow Him. It’s not a fun or simplistic calling; it’s a call to die.  But it’s only in dying to ourselves that we can truly live.

I often wish I could show people how amazing what Christ did for us truly is, to somehow be able to hold the wonder and the glory of the Cross in my hands, but it’s like trying to explain a sunset to someone who’s never seen colors.

True worship, which is a lifestyle not a musical style, is such a beautiful thing — an expression of love and thankfulness for our Lord and Savior. I think it’s heartbreaking when anything else takes its place.

Practicalpurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.