Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Fashion "Cheat"

I thought I'd share one of my little secrets. I don't like a bunch of pant leg down in my boots (unless I have skinny type jeans on which I don't really have right now) so I cheat and use my capris.  Otherwise, on cooler days the capris don't get used as much.
With the new trend of sweater socks, these could look even cuter. So, yes, now you know, I don't look quite so hip underneath there lol.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Good Thats Not Good Enough

My last post was regarding a question I received on whether I thought people were good.  Once I wrote I received feedback that I was not really expecting.  It made me realize there is a lot of confusion on this topic and that one could go on and on discussing one pandora box after another.  Then I got an amusing thought.  God has a pattern with me.  He really does.  He brings up people or circumstances in my life that really get me digging in his truths again.  It's actually quite loving of him because I get (1) reminded of the delight of what He has shown me through the years and (2) broadened in my continued understand of his character and there is no greater delight.  In fact this morning I was thinking of posting on my facebook status (though I never got around to it) that:

One of the most loving things God can do is remind you that you have not quite learned enough yet about Him.   

The amazing thing is that he has an eternity for us to crave more and more of Him and we will never run out of being delighted in learning his character.  Now think about that for a few seconds and hear your brain explode.

Anyway, back to the response.  I'm going to restate it (and I hope the person does not mind) because it is very well thought out and in many cases very true:

" seems if we can't agree on the basic principle that man is sinful and that that sin is complete and there is no good that comes from man or the world at all.  The only good anyone ever experiences comes from the Holy Spirit.  Whether He is in them or someone around them.  Or whether He causes something to come about.  It is never from anything else but Him.  That principle stems from why God requires us to come to Him in the first place.  You can't do ANYTHING good without Him.  Everything you do without Him is evil whether you want it to be or not because you are unable to do good at all.  Once a person realizes this, they understand they NEED God to take control.  Because God is the only way to do anything good at all.  And even when you have the Holy Spirit in you, it's a far cry from what Jesus did as good.  We are so decrepit and broken and lost that there is no possibility, not even remotely that we can bring about anything good on our own."

There was another comment that I will get to on a later post because it dives into yet another topic all together.

There is a lot of good thought here. However, before I dive into responding to it (and as I typed it I was reminded of why I had to sit down to answer and why I believe this post will be long indeed) I'd like to make one thing clear regarding my last post on goodness:

It was not the goodness that leads to salvation.  It does not even touch on salvation yet.  It is just a reflection on the state of man.  

 The reason I was not expecting the response is because I thought that was obvious.  Then I realized that some people have never really gone through these though processes so they may have lumped these together.  In order to address this I will go through the response bit by bit.

" seems if we can't agree on the basic principle that man is sinful :"

I do agree with that point.  Goodness was first, then sin came upon humanity.  Yes, man is sinful.  The fact that man can reflect good (originated in God) is merely an element of his being made in the image of God.  When we speak of the "image of God" we mean like him not just in appearance but in characteristics.  God is good, he is just, he is creator, he is personable, relation driven etc.  We are reflections of those things.  Man can be sinful and still have a sense of justice, a passion for it.  That is because we are made in His image.  The creation is scared and marred, not erased all together   It groans for restoration but it is not obliterated.  God's glory shines still in creation and even in the character of man itself.  This is true even of the unsaved, which leads to the next point....

"... sin is complete and there is no good that comes from man or the world at all."

This is partially answered in my answer above but there is more.  Though man is in a state of sin, and the creation is under the curse, there is still good.  If there was not, we would truly be in hell all ready. As Randy says: "Earth is the closest that believers will get to hell, and it is the closest non believers will get to heaven".  I always find that a sobering thought.  This is what I mean when I say even Christians don't realize sometimes how much good is reflected on earth and in people even now.  God's sovereign will holds back evil in so many ways even though we pretty much feel it is rampant.  There is good that comes from man, for He is still made in the image of his creator.  Is this good able to save him?  No.  Yet, one cannot deny that tons of people who don't give a hoot about the saving blood of Christ, have done good things.  Now, that good is still flowing from God himself and this is where I think this person in conversation with me does not realize that we actually agree.  This will become more evident as I respond more.

 "The only good anyone ever experiences comes from the Holy Spirit." 

This is true and yet it is not.  It is true in the sense that "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God".  Jesus is the Word, and he was there at the moment of creation.  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Christ and the bible says that His very spirit hovered over the waters.  His spirit is the fingerprint of himself in man and in creation.  All good in humanity and on earth has it's origion in God.  HOWEVER, many who do good do not have the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ dwelling and working in them. They may benefit from the blessings of a good God creating them, but that does not mean that Christ is alive in them.  The good that God bestows on man in creation is really a given.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made etc.  The good that we do is only because of His original goodness alive in our reflective image of Him.  YET, (and this is where the difference lies) it is not a good that saves.  It is a given, it's a freebie to speak casually.  It is not a ticket into heaven, and it is not a cleansing from sin.  It is a benefit of creation before God leaves it entirely and his Spirit is departed from sinful man forever.  That is where I think this individual needs to see the difference in these types of goodness.  This goodness is what God calls "filthy rags" when it comes to getting us reunited with God.  Compared to his righteousness, it is nothing and quite frankly, it is both used for his purposes and even at times stemming from our own desire to feel great about ourselves, but that is another blog post all together.

 "Whether He is in them or someone around them."

Now, there is a lot of potential problem in that comment.  Salvation does not work like a good disease.  It does not rub off on other people.  However, I do understand what is meant by this.  The fact though is that God's spirit is in the world still, moving and working and man is benefiting from it's presence as I've all ready stated.  This statement actually highlights the difference in these two "goods".  If it were the goodness of salvation, it could not "rub off" on another, every man is held accountable for his own response or lack there of to Christ and His work.  If it is meant in the goodness that is in creation and reflected as image bearers, then yes, it is in others on many different levels.

" Or whether He causes something to come about.  It is never from anything else but Him. "

Not much to say here, I agree with that.  I have all ready stated that even the basic goodness of God's character reflected in creation and humanity has it's source in God alone.

"That principle stems from why God requires us to come to Him in the first place."

Not necessarily.  God does not require us to come to Him so we can do good.  He requires it so that our sin may be removed by the work of His son, Jesus Christ.  So that we can fellowship and have a relationship once again with the Father (which will produce good works out of a responding love not just as a reflection of the creator alone). Yet, this thought and response will be completed as I move to the next line:

"You can't do ANYTHING good without Him."

Ah, here is where they split again into a true yet not true statement.  Can the unsaved do good things?  Yes.  Though even they are unaware that their good comes from the image of their creator.  They also may fail to realize that their good is being performed out of selfish motives (again...another post).  Is there good however of any value to God?  No, not toward salvation and certainly not allowing relationship with God.  It is however accomplishing the purposes of His will on the earth.  So, perhaps a better way to so say this (and feel free anyone with more thoughts to chime in on comments) is that we can do nothing good to help our, or bring about our salvation.  "For without me, you can do nothing"

"Everything you do without Him is evil whether you want it to be or not because you are unable to do good at all." 

Once again we are saying the same thing though it appears different.  The difference is in the fact that both the saved and the unsaved reflect the good of their creator.  Both bring glory to God because he orchestrates both.  He uses unsaved people to accomplish His purposes in the story of humanity.  The source of anything good them do is STILL HIMSELF.  Yet, they may not have accepted His gift of salvation.  The fact is, nothing can really be done without God being as the author of it all.  This is the great mystery of the sovereignty of God through out all the good and bad in the story of man.  SOOOO many more posts on that could be written and I highly suggest anyone curious about the topic read Randy Alcorn's "If God Is Good" book.  It helped me so much.
So, if a man who does not accept the gospel of Christ, repent and be saved, throws himself in front of a bus to save another man is that evil of him?  Is he doing evil?  No he is doing good because he reflects the image of his creator.  Is he saved, sadly  no.  The unsaved are certainly able to do good, again, they just don't realize the source of their goodness.

"Once a person realizes this, they understand they NEED God to take control."

Yes, this is true in the salvation sense.  Yet more specifically what people need to realize is that the good they do does not save them.  The fact that most people do not realize this about their own goodness is what keeps them from realizing they need God.  In fact, this somewhat proves my point.  The very fact that people are capable of good makes them think they don't need God.  They just hope their scales tip toward good in the end.  It's not that the good they did was in fact evil (though in some cases it may very well be like giving to charity for the sake of pride or so on) it's that their good is not good enough to save their souls.  Only Christ's work can do that and that is what they need to realize.  Most people are not wanting God so that they can perform more good.  They do not look at him and say "oh, I need you to take control so I can do better"  if they do they are coming to God for the wrong reason anyway.  If this were true, Christians would be producing nothing but good works also and we all know that isn't true.  (I apologize for the real rabbit trail nature of this topic and my writing because the fact is, one thought leads right into one million others, all valid but making it so hard to stay on point.)

" Because God is the only way to do anything good at all."

If by this you mean that all good comes from God, then yes, absolutely   Yet God himself calls the goodness of man filthy rags when compared ( and noting that there is a comparison is important because we like to compare it to pure evil and call it good, God compares it to His perfect righteousness) to Himself.  Again, it's goodness reflective of Him, but not producing salvation.  Anything more would be redundant here.

  "And even when you have the Holy Spirit in you, it's a far cry from what Jesus did as good."

When you have the Holy Spirit in you, it IS what Jesus is doing as good.  You are however, still in the sinful flesh, walking in a sinful world.  Jesus was sinless, we are not sinless.  We are saved from our sin, but we are not without sin and opportunity to sin.  The bible does however state that a true believer will be unable to continue on and on in a state of sin because of the Holy Spirit.  That span of time may however vary.  Oh, boy, streaming into another topic again.

" We are so decrepit and broken and lost that there is no possibility, not even remotely that we can bring about anything good on our own."  

It's very true, we are decrepit and broken.  However we are able to produce good in the world.  That is self evident.  This good does not save us though so we can do nothing to save us.  Also again, even the good we do outside of salvation is sourced in God and used by Him for his purposes.

So, I thought they were some very good thoughts.  It's honestly a real brain bender, the whole thing is.  We have to remember that if the world was void of the goodness of God in creation and even in humanity, this would be hell.  It will be that way one day very sadly.  In fact, understanding even remotely what removing the Spirit of God from the earth and humanity would be like is in when we finally start to get what hell really will be.  Alcorn talks a lot about this in his book as well. So, though we reap and reflect from His goodness, it is not the goodness that is enough to save us.  Christ is the only good that is good enough.

I hope that makes sense and I hope it helps.  The fact is, God says man's good does not please him.  This makes sense when we realize that our goodness is just a reflection of Himself in us.  Why should he be impressed with something coming from him reflecting back to him?  That takes nothing from us.  What he wants is for us to choose to trust the work of His son, when we didn't have to.  It comes back to not being "Stepford Wives".  We will spontaneously be good because we are made in the image of God.  We will sin because we are under the curse of the fall.  These come as a given.  What is not a given is the choice we will make regarding the work of the Son.

Insane Beauty Tip I'm Trying

I've hated my skin since the middle if seventh grade. The minute my face started to break out my fix- it dad got right on it, or so he thought, setting up a regiment for me. Unfortunately, though he meant well, his methods were the opposite of what my skin needed and it got worse. He had me hot soak for many minutes and then wash (even with Lava soap at one time which makes me cringe right now) and then cold soak.  The result was that my skin would explode with oil and break out more.  I suppose I should thank him for helping me develop a deeper sense of security and lessening the attention of boys at that age lol, but still I kind of wish I could go back ESPECIALLY NOW.

So, It's been a battle for me.  As I've gotten older I have even more combination skin.  It's a visious cycle of getting rid of oil only to have the dry parts of my skin get too dry.  I also have a severe low immunity to the cold sore virus and can get it on my cheeks, lips and chin when my skin gets mad enough either from dryness or extreme temps.  Add to that I have olive skin and scar so easily and you can see my battle.  Now that I'm 35, I'm starting to react to the sun with sun spots or age spots or hormone spots, whatever you call them, they are annoying.  About two years ago at a church camp out I got badly burned because it was so cold and windy, I did not think of being careful.  My forehead has been scared badly from the sunspots that gave me every since.  Another symptom of age it would seem was the red lines on the side of my nose.  I hear they are broken capillaries.  I've had those for about five years that I've noticed anyway.

I'd kind of settled though.  I mean, what do you do?  I've tried all kinds of products including Proactive which really ticked off my skin.  I've stayed away from anything with the word oil in it, on it, or around it lol.  So, imagine my surprise when I see a link for something called the "Oil Cleansing Method" on Pinterest as a cure for skin problems of all kinds including acne.  I was of course completely floored.  Especially because you actually wash with straight oil.  The before and after pictures however were amazing and the more I researched it, the more it seemed to work.  It seemed to be this hidden natural beauty secret. 

Honestly, at any other time in my life I'd not have been brave enough to try it.  I mean come on, I've been avoiding oil for upwards of 25 years!  Still, when you have tried it all you may as well try something new.  So, a week ago I started.  See the links for info on the details and recommended ratios but this is what I've done:

  • 75% Caster Oil and 25% Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Quarter size in the palm of my hand, rub it into my hands and all over my face and upper neck.  (I cannot tell you how scared I was the first time I did this!!!LOL)
  • Rub for a min or two
  • Heat a CLEAN washcloth very hot, ring out and lay on face.  Let sit for about a min.
  • Re-heat washcloth and gently wipe off oil, heating again as needed till all the oil is wiped off.  You are not supposed to scrub but gently wipe.
(I'm now placing the hot cloth on my face for a few seconds before the initial wash)
    The science behind it is that oil removes oil. So you open your pores, and use good oils to clean out old oil and dirt and hydrate your face all at the same time.  Your face won't have to work hard to produce more oil and your skin can rest in a sense.  Caster oil is a natural healer and cleanser.  Read the links for more. (pics are make up free)
    The first time I did it, my skin felt awesome afterwards and looked better all ready in the morning.  However, by day three I had a few breakouts.  I looked it up and read that some of the bad oils and dirt will need a few days to work out of the pours so though I was scared again and wanted to stop, I decided to stick with it.  I've been doing it for a whole week and this morning I really noticed a difference!  Even the little breakout from the clarifying process is healing so fast! 

    The red capillaries on my nose are going away!  The sunburn scars on my forehead are looking better. 
    The pores on my skin look healthier. My forehead is smoother than I've ever seen it. This is me right after waking up all no makeup.

    I took some outside in the van because that light is usually the least flattering.

    On the left you can see what is left of the sunburn scar. It is so much better though! I've been trying to cover it up for a long time when I put on foundation.
    Somehow there is an even glow in my skin that I've never seen quite honestly. It's astounding.

    I'm still a little scared but I'm going to keep it up for a month and then add using an apple cider/water astringent as well.  I want to give this enough time to see just what it will do. 
    I'll try to update how it goes.

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Do You Believe People Are Good?

    I was asked this question recently.  I was told it was a simple question, begging a yes or no answer.  I stated that it really isn't.  Immediately the words starting reeling around in my mind as to why that was and of course, I had to come and write.  Unfortunately I wrote half the post and lost it a week or so ago and became deflated to start again.  Yet here I am. 

    I want to say first that most Christians would have an obvious answer: "For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God" etc.  However, that does not answer this question believe it or not because that is saying that man is sinful, it is not addressing his goodness.  Besides, I'm really never into the obvious answers lol.

    To get an idea of the complexity of this question and it's answer let me tell you something on the side.  If I were asked "Are your children good?"  what would my answer be?  I know my children can do good and are very capable of it so I could answer "yes".  However, I also know my children can be bad and are capable of bad, so I could say "no".  Since I love my children and hold out affectionate hope for them, I would never define them however as bad.  We feel the same for our own humanity.  Do you see why the answer is not simple?

    When I was a teen, I loved the book "The Diary of Anne Frank"  and I enjoyed the old black and white movie as well.  At the end of the movie though, Anne says something that really irritated me even as a teenager.  As the sirens were going off and they became aware that the trucks were stopping right in front of the home they were hiding in, she states to Peter that she believes man is truly good at heart.  I always want to scream at that part!  Growing up in a Christian home the words came to my mind "No, evil!  Sinners!  You are so wrong!"  Yet, there is part of Anne's annoying words that are true.  I will get back to what that sense really was that she had.  You may even come to it yourself as I continue. 

    Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a fan of Randy Alcorn, in a big way.  In Randy's book "If God Is Good", I learned a new concept that I'd never considered before.  That goodness, was proof of God Himself.  Many atheists will say that evil is proof that there is no God but Randy points out that they have no answer to the source of goodness either. 

    "We have no logical reason to take good for granted; it's existence demands explanation." 

    He goes on to say that the fact that we don't question good's existence affirms we consider good the norm and evil the exception.  So when we see bad things happen, it's news because for the most part, evil is not the norm.  "Our shock at evil testifies to the predominance of good." 
    "Some of the world's goodness can be described only as supernatural, since from a naturalistic viewpoint we should all ruthlessly step on one another to survive."

    From here our thoughts should take us back to the beginning when God created and He himself called it "good".  At that moment, like a Father, God looked at man and He Himself defined Him as good.  We are fortunate and live in more blessing than we realize when we notice that predominately there is still more good in this world than evil and there is still more good in man than evil. As Randy states: "Yes, there are truckloads of evil, but there are also boatloads of good."
     However, we have to note the predominate fact here that:

    Goodness has it's source in God himself and without Him, there is no explanation that fits it's existence.

    "Without God, the world would be amoral, with no objective goodness or evil. 
    Where does goodness come from?  How could it come from nothing?  Why would people have such a strong sense of right and wrong?  Why would the powerful sometimes sacrifice their lives to save the weak, handicapped, and dying?"
    "Evolution can explain greed, selfishness, insensitivity, survival-preoccupation, and even a certain amount of ruthlessness; but does anything in the blind evolutionary process explain demonstrating kindness, putting other people first and even risking your life to help a stranger?" 
    "What should surprise atheists is not that powerful people crush those weaker than themselves- that would be entirely natural.  The surprise is that powerful people would sacrifice their welfare to aid the weak." 

    So, though Alcorn is talking more along the lines of goodness proving the existence of God, I think it adds to this discussion because we are so quick as even Christians to forget the dominance of good in the world and in people.  There are plenty of people who don't have a single inclination to follow God who do amazingly good things.  They may even lay down their very lives. 

    Therefore, I believe what Anne was feeling at that moment was a hope that things were not settled yet.  They was something innate in her telling her this was not as it ought to be. Man was made good and he is capable now of evil.  She was linking back to the very intentions of God to make things right.  We were created for good and all things beautiful.  She was picking up on that and quite frankly, it was the very evil she was experiencing from man that was causing a contrast analysis in her mind leading to the truthful conclusion that man was meant for good.  He was not as he aught to be. 

    We cannot ignore that fact though that man cannot possibly be defined as good on the whole.  If the definition is to be complete, no, man is not good.  My children are not good.  Is man bad?  Are my children bad?  See, that is not true either.  Both realities must be recognized together to answer this question.  Man was meant to be good, sin has tainted him.  To say that man is sinful is incomplete though because even in a state of sin, man can have amazingly strong characteristics of good!  So when we say that alone we miss the optimism of the very reflection of our Creator in humanity to this day.  Is your head spinning yet?

    Therefore, in conclusion I answer the question of "Do you think people are good?" with this:  People are intended to be good.  They are made for good, and they were declared good by God himself.  They are incredibly capable of good, and they reflect goodness every day.  This is reality, as it is with my children and I should of course acknowledge this in them.  The other reality I have to recognize is their need for a savior.  For, they are indeed goodness that has been tainted.  The very fact that they can be bad and reflect evil, is also a reality I have to recognize (and thank God for the solution!).  It's the same with humanity.  I cannot stick my head in the sand and say man is good, not realizing that his goodness is marred and scared.  I also should not label him as bad, for he was made good and that is a great awe producing thing. 

    Or shorter still:
    Do you believe people are good?  Yes
    Do you believe people are bad?  Yes
    Does this answer the question?  No
    What does?  The original intent of man.
    Which was?  Good
    What happened?  Sin
    How can it be fixed?  Faith in the work of Christ.

    Or simpler still:

    If we were to take a great painting, say a lovely Renoir who I happen to adore, and we were to dash black paint in a few strides over it.  Fist of all we would be devastated.  We would have such a strong feeling of wrong, of destruction.  As we looked at that painting would we now say it was good?  Yes.  Why?  How?  Because we know what it was!  We know how it was intended.  Is it still good?  Well, sadly no!  Yet, we hold out such conviction that it is, because we are aware of what it really is under there!  What is bad is the black stain!  The marks that ruined such greatness.  To say that it was good still would be to not only ignore the problem with it, but to deminish it's origional excellence as well. 
    It's as simple as that. 
    Thank God he has a way to restore what has been lost. 
    No one is more convicted of the perfection of His masterpiece than God Himself, and therefore, no one is more passionate to see it's coming restoration.