Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keep Christ in the Home

(This post was written by TJ Young, all comments will be directed to him)

There are not many scriptures that aggravate so many people more than than Colossians 3:18 (NLT; “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.”). That really seems like an odd sentence to type but it is true. Honestly, most women have a problem with this verse. They want to get a petition signed so that God can remove it from the Bible. However, this group of scriptures from Colossians 3:18-4:1, are very important and have a very simple truth that is overlooked. 

I am not writing this to infuriate women. I just want to point out a simple truth. Christ needs to be first and foremost in your home. That is it. Many people will look at this and say, “Well, duh. Of course.” But really think about it. We all pray that God will be with us throughout our day, usually just meaning wherever else we go. Safety in travel. A good day at work. Over the food. Get out of a speeding ticket. For the kids to not get in trouble at school. We pray for sicknesses and good grades and we (not as much as we should) even praise him for things we go through good and bad. Many times, however, we come home and shut off prayer and God. 

Kinda stings, right? But in many cases it is true. I do it. You do it. The people at Colossae did it. That is why Paul is reminding them of these things in these verses. He wrote these guidelines so we can have healthy relationships with each other as an example of how our relationship with Christ should be. Submit in the LORD. Love in the LORD. Respect in the LORD. Serve in the LORD. We need to make sure we keep God first at home and not shut God out when we take our shoes off. You can still watch your TV and movies and play Kinect Sports but sometimes there may be a situation that arises that requires some prayer. Don’t just say, “I’ll be praying about it.” You can, believe it or not, pray right there. Keep God first in your marriages and relationships, even dating. Make decisions with God first. Also, obey your parents. Even the worst ones. Just because they are not saved doesn’t mean you can refuse to make up your bed. 

I believe we all have work to do in keeping God first in all aspect of our lives. Do not shut God off in your home. Let him do work there too. What do you think? How does this make you feel? What can you do differently?

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Help

A few months ago I went with some friends to see the movie, “The Help.” It was one of the best movies I’ve watched in a long time. I laughed, I cried, I was so mad I could have punched someone all in five minutes. This emotional roller coaster of a movie is set in Jackson, MS during the 60s and showcases the hardships that the Help (maids and groundsmen) faced in the rural south. Though black men and women were free at this point, you see the prejudice that still lingered cause by generations of southern slave owners.

A few weeks ago, I began the Prison Epistles course and starting reading the letters Paul wrote to the church during his imprisonment. As timely manner would have it, the Help came out on video and I watched it again. The issue of prejudice and slavery was heavy on my mind as I started reading of another slave, Onesimus. Onesimus was the slave of a man called Philemon. During this ancient culture the Romans started the tradition of owning slaves and slaves were very important assets to society. They were what kept everything running smoothly on an estate and Philemon no doubt depended greatly on Onesimus. Philemon as you might have guessed is the letter that Paul wrote to Philemon in regards to Onesimus. It seems that Onesimus stole some valuable items from Philemon and ran away. In this time and culture, that was a serious offense. Not only was Onesimus a run-away slave, he was a thief and punishable by beatings, imprisonment, and even death. We’re not sure how Onesimus came in contact with Paul but we know that he did and converted. Paul then tells Onesimus that he should return to Philemon and ask for forgiveness. Paul sends the letter with Onesimus to Philemon on his behalf, requesting Philemon to be merciful and even release Onesimus.

What Paul was asking Philemon to do was unheard of, crazy. Yet, Paul reminded Philemon that under Christ we are all equal, doomed to die and be punished for our sins were it not for the grace and mercy Christ shows each of us.

See Paul was an advocate for equality, not just socially slaves vs. masters but between husbands/wives, parents/children, and even Jews/Gentiles. Paul was knows as the apostle to the Gentiles. The Jews of the time were against the Gentiles being grafted into God’s plan of salvation. They were God’s chosen and yet God still made a way that Gentiles could be grafted into the plan. Paul sought to make that fact known and to encourage love between the two despite any differences.

Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Prejudice lives today. Sure we are hopefully far beyond the naivety of the 60’s; but, it still exists. It just lives in different forms. We hold ourselves higher than others for many reasons, maybe it’s racial, or by gender. Perhaps, it’s class or social standing. Who has the coolest toys or even who goes to church the most and bakes the best potato salad. Prejudice lives in many fashions. Yet grace, it’s a funny thing. It cancels all the factors out.
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what belief, if any, was unique to Christianity. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace” (Yancey 1997, 11). *

Through God’s eyes all are equal, that means nothing you do will make you better or more righteous before God. We’re kind of a bunch of sorry folks. Yet God in his love for us extended mercy. It’s a unique quality in the religious realm as most religions stress some rigourous work or ritual to obtain sacred goodness. God saw us right where we were and knew we were without.

Pride can’t compete with grace, it can’t thrive where grace abounds because grace is humble. Pride takes on the notion that it needs nothing or no one to survive, yet a person receiving grace knows that they got what they didn’t deserve and that they couldn’t have obtained it on their own. Pride and prejudice are lovers (it’s a movie in case you didn’t know). They walk hand in hand and snub out the rest. Grace means that I can’t hold myself higher than anyone. I’m just as low as you. 

It’s something that rings through after watching the Help numerous times. It took a person removing the prejudice of the era, to go against her friends’ ideas to reach out and stand up for what was right. To go into someone of a different race’ home when it was illegal to and sit on a person’s couch and be her friend. It’s what Christ did for us. He knew were where helpless, he knew we were doomed and loved us yet. We were given freedom through his humbling.

*Story from Global University, Berean School of the Bible, Prison Epistles

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Syrup Making in Daphne, AL

This past weekend I visited a small farm in Daphne, AL for a Cane Syrup Making Demonstration. The event is held the 2nd Saturday in November every year at the home of Carlos Wright, a fourth generation syrup maker. The event is held to teach and remember this nostalgic practice that reaches back in the history book of the south. The Wrights go through the whole process of making the syrup and tells of his life journey of hard work and perseverance. 
The first step in making the syrup after it’s harvested is to feed the stalks through a mill. The mill used to be powered by mules or horses, the Wrights however rigged their 200 yr-old  mill to be powered off a tractor. Liquid is squeezed out of the cane and collects in a barrel. The shredded stalks are discarded to the back.

 It takes several gallons of the cane juice to make a single gallon of syrup. Once the juice has been collected it is slowly cooked in a large bat. The liquid is heated at a steady temperature to boiling. While the syrup is cooking someone skims the impurities off that rise to the top using a skimmer.

 The process from cane to syrup takes several hours, making this old-fashioned tradition a time of celebrating and coming together with friends, family, and community. While we waited for the syrup to complete it’s process we enjoyed the afternoon absorbed in culture and enjoyed some fine home cooked dining. The Wrights had their antique farm equipment on display. They also sold greens and produce grown locally on the farm. The money raised by the event is donated to Cancer Research.

Here is a small clip of the syrup making in action.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

As I have spent the last year learning the ends and outs of creating a small business, it's that time of the year where I look back and think where should I go from here. I would love to say that everything took off and was a success. Frankly, somedays I question whether it is worth the time and energy and cost to form and keep a business. I'm sure most who have walked this line would say it's hard and takes time, mostly it takes faith. Faith is what drives me to keep pushing on, to keep doing what I love and enjoy. I know the economy is somewhat dark, but I have faith in what I do. Not that it's mind blowing or life changing, at least on any grand scale. But I still believe that sometimes the best and most happiest things are the simplest. Sure art to most is frivolous, but I feel that the world without art, without appreciating the beauty that God made is a cold sad world.

I want to encourage people to pursue their dreams, whether it makes sense in this realistic world or not. My favorite quote I was reminded of the other day from Miracle on 34th Street is to Doris as she is stuck in her 'realistic' mindset of the world.

Look Doris, someday you're going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile. 

Pursue what God places in your heart. He does so for a reason.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sale

I'm starting my Cyber Monday Sale early. Starting this Friday save 20% off items in the store. Simple use the code: NOEL10

Blessings this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale

Bookmark it down. Starting the 28th thru 30th of November you can save 20% off purchases in the shop. So pull up to your computer in your pj's and hot cocoa in hand and get some super cute gifts for your friends and family this Christmas. Don't fear, you won't be trampled this sale is for three days. Free handmade ornament with every order over $5.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Year Celebration

This past weekend me and my man celebrated a full year of dating. I know there are those 70 yr olds out there who say talk to me when you have 60 under your belt but for us it was a mile marker. We decided not to spend a ton of money on gifts but to make each other something heartfelt and spend the money on a really awesome date.

We started by heading to the Birmingham zoo. The weather was beautiful. We spent several hours walking around. Then headed to Carrabbas for some good Italian food. We ended the night by going to the summit and Starbucks.

As for the gifts we each made things that meant something to one another. Made me a cd of a few songs with him playing his guitar and he built this super awesome recipe box. I love to cook and I have my own recipe cards that I made and needed something to keep them in. He and his dad built this box which is plenty big enough to house some recipe cards for years. I see an heirloom item if you ask me.

I started by making him a photo book using MyPublisher. Very easy software and modern, plus they have deals all the time so they are affordable. I made a scrapbook of sort of all our photos from the past year and then illustrated different parts to turn it into a storybook. With me as the princess and him my knight. I illustrated us into the characters and then used our portrait on the covers and made a little pouch for the book. (He likes photos btw, I know he's different for a guy but I like that) I also make individual ornaments using the portraits. I think we set a good ground and our home can be filled with reminders from good events. Homemade gifts are just awesome in my opinion.

So Happy 1 Year to us and many more to follow.