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Sunday School taught me that a Christian is a person who has “asked Jesus into their heart”, has done the ABC’s: accept, believe, confess.  I am wondering if this was perhaps an incomplete explanation of being a Christian (By “Christian” I mean one who follows Christ, not necessarily an adherent to the established religion called Christianity).

The Bible says that even the demons believe.  According to my upbringing (and I believe, according to Scripture), we are to accept Jesus as our “personal Lord and Savior”.  I’m definitely not the first one to say it, but I think it’s pretty obvious that many who call themselves Christians embrace the “Savior” part, while the “Lord” part falls by the wayside.  I think Jesus was pretty clear on expressing that he desired for the church (his bride) to be set apart, to be a light in the world, to be different from everyone else.  It looks like that’s where the Lord part comes in.

Being a Christian is not just accepting the potential risk and purchasing fire insurance.  It’s not a “get out of hell free” card that you get and keep for later.  It is obedience. 

Of course we aren’t perfect, and He knows that, and has already allowed for it within the gifts of grace and mercy.  However just because the parent of a 3-year-old knows that their child will not be perfect in obedience does not mean that the parent does not still expect it.  The parent expects obedience, but realizes that their child is not perfect.  If the standard was lowered, then would the child still have something to strive for, something to encourage continual improvement?  If the standard was lowered, then perhaps the behavior would worsen accordingly.

Just throwing a theory out here… perhaps the reason God holds such high standards for His children is to give us something to strive for.  It seems to be human nature to adjust our efforts to the expectations.  If the expectation is a fourth-year university-level paper, then we have a certain level of effort.  If however the expectation is an explanation of why you didn’t enjoy your chicken carbonara on a restaurant customer satisfaction survey, then you likely won’t be pulling an all-nighter surrounded by stacks of reference materials and resources, with your handy reference guide at hand to ensure your citations are correct.

That said, I want to ensure that my efforts in following Christ (which is simply a natural response to the grace that He has given to me) are less and less hampered by sin.  I want to be continually transformed to be more like Him, and for this I must resist the devil.  I must believe the Truth of Jesus Christ over the lies of Satan.  I choose to continually resist my sinful tendencies and allow Christ to mold me and use me, making me into the child He desires me to be.

Perhaps that’s a better definition of a real Christian.  It seems to have less to do with what you believe, and more with how you live.  Don’t get me wrong – I think certain beliefs are necessary for a Christian… but I do not think they are the foundation on which a Christian is judged.  As I mentioned above, even the demons believe.  So what makes us different?  I think it’s the way we live.

(as written in an email by my husband, Chris)

As some of you may have heard Kenya is making major headlines right now in international news.  On December 27 a presidential election was held, the results of which have yielded Kenya’s closest presidential race in history.  Although President Kibaki has declared himself re-elected, his rival Raila Odinga has declared that the election was rigged and much violence has been the result.  To date over 300 people have been killed, and more violence is feared in the days ahead.  To make matters worse, I believe there is significant spiritual warfare taking place as one of Odinga’s suspected goals in seeking the presidency is to turn Kenya into a Muslim state, and institute Sharia law.  This would mean significant persecution of Christians, and the removal of all missionaries.

My wife Beth recently had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Africa Inland Mission as part of her role as Short Term Assistant.  We both have many missionary friends living in and around Nairobi, and until now Kenya has been a very peaceful place for missionaries to be.  Just outside of Nairobi is a large missionary boarding school, Rift Valley Academy.  Missionaries and their families are keeping a low profile right now as their is some fear of targeted attacks against westerners.

Please join with us in prayer for the restoration of peace in Kenya.  We know that God is able to do mighty works even in the midst of crisis.  Please also pray for the many missionary families who are uncertain of what may come next, and especially for the many children who are away from their parents in boarding school.

If you would like more information, a good source is BBC Africa http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/default.stm

This Christmas I was reminded of a cheesy-but-true lesson – love is all you need.
Love Mug
I was also reminded how amazingly blessed I am.  The day after Christmas we saw one of the ladies in our townhouse complex that we know is a fellow Christian.  She’s a single mom to two young boys.  The only gift she was able to afford to give her youngest son was a Bible and a special case, and he absolutely loved it.  When one of the boys was asked by my husband what he got for Christmas, he said “Santa brought me a Nintendo Wii!  Chris replied with “cool! me too!”, which was met with a “but you’re old” expression on his face.  “Yeah,” the mom said in a lowered voice, “and I don’t have a clue who Santa is”.  Someone had given them a Nintendo Wii anonymously.  I realized in that moment how selfish and stuff-driven I can sometimes be.  I don’t want to be that way, and I am always asking God to keep my conscience sharp and attuned to his will for me.  I got alot of gifts this year, given to me by people who love me.  Nothing terribly extravagant, but far more than many people in this city, and especially around the world.  In the end, though, it’s just stuff, and I wouldn’t be sad if I lost it all tomorrow.  I have the love of my (two) families, my awesome friends, my incredible husband, and most importantly, the Almighty God who created me.
Really, love is all you need.

I love Christmas.  Who doesn’t?  (That’s a rhetorical question).  In honor of this super-duper holiday, I give you… my top ten best things of Christmasy Christmasness:

10. Lights (so pretty. too bad the LED money-saving ones are ugly. oh well, I sucked it up because I’m cheap frugal).

9. Turkey Dinner (nothing beats Mom’s Christmas turkey dinner with everything just right… East Coast style dressing, dill pickles, and all the vegetables you can eat!  Of all the moves and changes throughout my childhood, this is one very yummy thing that was constant every single year).

8. Snow (I remember looking out the window framed with Christmas lights and seeing the freshly fallen foot of snow sparkling in the light of the street lamp… along with the awesome snow fort I had built with my friends earlier that day).

7. The music (I start listening to my Christmas music on November 1st each year, and I NEVER get tired of it.  Favorite song is the Hallelujah Chorus.  I love them all, really.  Except the Christmas Shoes song which I hate so much it makes me want to scream).

6. Real Christmas trees (I’ve had a real one every year of my life.  One year, my Mom wanted to get a fake one, so they bought it, set it up, and it was so amazingly terribly ugly and wrong.  All 5 of us stood around it for about 6 seconds, then promptly jumped in the car and went and bought a real one.  The fake one was never seen again).

5. Giving gifts (I hate the commercialism associated with Christmas, but I have to say… it’s awesome getting a little something for someone I care about, and seeing them open it and be happy! I love it!  It’s especially sweet when you get unique gifts that you know they’ll totally love… like when I went to Kenya last month, and “may or may not have” bought some Christmas gifts there).

4. Candy Canes (my family is obsessed with “real” candy canes, with all the proper stripes, etc.  The fake ones are quite reprehensible, and frankly not worth the energy required to consume them, in our opinions).

3. Christmasy specials and movies (The cute ones like The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life, not the creepy/weird ones, except Elf, which is weird, but somehow heart-warming).

2. Family & Friends (predictable? Maybe, but I bet most people don’t really realize how fortunate they are to have family and friends… I don’t usually… but Christmas makes me remember and be thankful for the amazing gift that they are).

1. Jesus! (Of course you knew that I had to put Jesus, didn’t you.  I blame Sunday School. Honestly though, it’s true. It never ceases to amaze me that God loves me so much that he came to earth as love incarnate, just to pay my debt).

Merry Christmas!  May you know the joy and love that is our awesome God desiring a relationship with you and demonstrating His love to you with a baby in a manger 2007-ish years ago!

 

Well, I think I have a case of “greener-grass-itis”.  It’s inevitable, isn’t it?  I just got back from a 2 week business trip to Kenya for meetings, and I actually had the nerve to think my life is uncool?  Geez, what is wrong with me??

My life rocks.  I love my husband more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being (Jesus excluded, of course).  I love my job, and consider myself to be the luckiest (or “most blessed” for those of you who only speak christianese) person for this time in my life.  I have an amazing and cozy townhouse to live in, enough food to eat and then some, and hopes and dreams to keep me motivated.

Sure, the weather may be freezing (especially compared to Kenya), and life has a way of throwing curve balls at you sometimes (my sister), and there is so much garbage that goes on in the world.  Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure everyone else’s grass is no greener than mine.  I deliberately choose to be JOYFUL in ALL circumstances, placing my trust in God ALONE, and building PERSEVERANCE!

Merry Christmas everyone.  Yeah, that’s right, I said it… MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Not “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings”.  Summer and spring and fall are seasons too, and Victoria day is also a holiday.  IT’S NOT LOGICAL to celebrate the CHRISTMAS season without calling it CHRISTMAS.  If you’re Jewish and celebrate Hannukah, then fine.  Say “Happy Hannukah”.  But don’t deny me the right to say “Merry Christmas” if you’re just some burnt-out, cynical, secular atheist who can’t face the facts and admit that there’s a God, and it’s HIS son’s birthday!

And that’s what’s in my head right now.  Got more than you paid for, didn’t ya?

So, here I am at Mayfield Guest House (the AIM guesthouse in Nairobi, Kenya).  It’s been only 2 (full) days.  I’ve experienced so much, met so many people, and loved it all.  I have so many stories to tell.  I saw Mt. Longonot and the Rift Valley, which was BEAUTIFUL! (Google it).  I’ve toured Kijabe Hospital, Moffat Bible College, and RVA… tomorrow we’re going to the Eastern Region Office and International Services, and AIM AIR (to take pictures for Chris!).

Having Sam and Bonnie show me around has been so much fun- they are so great (Bonnie gives me “Chris substitute” hugs”, and we been falling off of our chairs (literally) in laughter, on a regular basis!

Bonnie got stung in the night by the Nairobi fly, which leaves acidic burns on your skin.  Hopefully it will clear up soon without too much discomfort.

Today as I sat gazing out at Mt. Longonot, I praised God for his amazing creation, talking to Him, and thanking Him for everything.  I am so blessed… even in the hardships, He is faithful.  When I am weak, He is strong… and He is exalted!

I love this song. It really captures how I’ve often felt lately.  There’s alot of negative stuff in the world, and the media doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture of life.  This song helps me to remember why I have that contented feeling in the pit of my stomach… because God is in control.  To quote a great VeggieTales movie… “God is bigger than the bogeyman, he’s bigger than Godzilla, and the monsters on TV…”

“One Of Those Days” (Song Lyrics by Shaun Groves)

At the risk of sounding shallow
Maybe trivial or trite
Emotional or mellowed
Well, how can I say this right?
Guess, I’m not the kind that figures
Life’s all rainbows and blues skies
Still I just can’t help but notice
I’ve got no good cause to cry

Chorus
It’s just been one of those days, one of those days
Every glass half full, every drop lemonade
Just one of those days, one of those days
All my worries to bed
And my faith wide awake
Hey, hey, hey
Just one of those days
Just one of those days

There’s a smile I can’t turn down
For a dance across my face
And the way I see things now
A frown would just be out of place
Cause I know you’re in your heaven
Yeah, with both hands on the wheel
And somehow this simple knowing
Has infected how I feel

I’m not blind to imperfections
Still a realist by trade
A pragmatic, pessimistic, over-thinker
On a break

On my way home from work every day, I see a billboard with the quotation: “If Hollywood ever had an original idea, it would die of loneliness”.

I chuckled to myself the first time I saw it, making myself feel good by thinking about how dumb Hollywood is. But then I thought about it a bit more, and it occurred to me that it is actually a very Biblical idea. According to the writer of Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. I am just grateful that I serve a God who is omniscient and all-loving. He knows everything, and wants only the best for me!

I'm Red, he's Honey. I'm the writer of this blog and the source of your entertainment and/or boredom. We're parents of an exceptionally adorable child, and we have no idea what we're doing! This blog is the outlet for my thoughts along the way - welcome! Pull up a couch, grab a cup of tea, and stay a while! Or back away slowly. Whatever works.




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love this shot. Twilight at Lake Victoria

The ladies. African and Canadian!

The beauty of God's creation!

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