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.





Hannah Hurnard on Suffering

3 09 2007

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“As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.”

~Hannah Hurnard, from Hinds’ Feet on High Places





Understanding The Process of Grief

30 08 2007

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Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

If I’d been asked to describe the progression of grief a few years ago, I would have assumed it’d work through a nice orderly timeline.  It would start at the loss and work through different emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) in some sort of logical order.  Each emotion would be a level and once worked through, you’d move on to the next stage in the process.

I have since concluded that grief doesn’t follow a systematic timeline.  Instead, it often reminds me of a rollercoaster—up and down, to and fro, and all without any warning.  You hang on so tight your fingers hurt, scream your head off, and try not to get sick on the unlucky person who’s seated in front of you.  You can go from being at acceptance, to anger, and then right back to just feeling depressed, and you would’ve felt like you’d worked through each of those already.

Just One Wild Ride

Grief isn’t a cycle – once you’ve worked through something you’re on to the next phase – because the feelings and struggles are always there, but it’s impossible for anyone to try and deal with them all at the same time, so it comes it shifts.  The process of working through grief doesn’t inch along, slowly but surely, going in the right direction.  It takes quantum leaps that seem to lead anywhere but forward, but eventually, someday, comes to an end.

Some days, I wake up feeling as if the world is almost as it should be, but the reality of what I’m dealing with can hit again and leave me feeling dazed.  It makes me hesitate when answering “How are you?” because I don’t want to drag everyone I know along on my rollercoaster.  If I cry when talking, they assume life must be “bad,” but if I’m able to smile while reporting the details of life to them, then life must be “good.”  But the struggles are always the same; they’re always there.  I think this is something people have a hard time grasping.

Out of the Box

Often, it seems as if people are only able to place me in one of their mental boxes.  If I’m in the “Poor Kelsey” box, they’ll ask sympathetic questions and make sad eyes to such a sickening degree I’d like to sign them up for acting lessons — if they’re going to act, at least they could try looking sincere.  When placed in this box, people seem to forget I’m even capable of talking about anything lighter than grief, death and the like, or would even want to do something simply for enjoyment.

On the other hand, if I’m stuck in the “Life is Fine” box ,when I mention something about my dad’s health and how life is going, they’ll look surprised for a moment and comment, “Oh, that’s right… how is your dad anyways?”  They’d forgotten anything was even happening.

I hate being in either box, because both are such horribly inaccurate representations of my life.  Some of it might simply be that they can’t understand what the process of working through grief looks like; they still think it follows a timeline, so they don’t understand why I don’t feel “better” yet, or why I haven’t moved on to the next “stage.”  The trouble is, there aren’t stages in that sense; just one wild ride.

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