Shopping therapy

I love to shop. For sure, I can shop ’til I drop. That’s about three to four hours, but I do it with complete abandon, a smile on my face, and my eyes darting back and forth to discover anything new and interesting. Shopping is therapy for me.

I confess I rarely buy anything. I window-shop—but more than that, I actually window-shop inside stores, as well. Is that called aisle-shopping? I don’t know.

My favorite stores are home furnishings, but I love a good variety store, antique shop, art gallery, or department store. I like quirky things. I especially love it when little “rooms” are decorated, so you can actually see the possibilities. My imagination goes wild! Inspiration overload.

I enjoy clothing stores less—because I rarely find anything I like in my size that looks good on me with a price I’m willing to pay. Clothes shopping does nothing for my good humor. Shoe shopping is even worse—but I’ll spare you.

I rarely get to do my shopping-’til-dropping escapades, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The malls where we live in Spain only have one home decoration store—nice but pricey. I still might find myself spending a short afternoon at a mall, just for fun—about once every two years. But, in the United States…. The possibilities are endless.

Michelangelo once proclaimed, “Gazing at beautiful things acts on my soul.” I totally agree with him.

I love to shop with my sister, who should start her own business of where to find what and how to outfit a person in one afternoon. I also enjoy shopping with our daughter, who tells me honestly what she thinks and keeps me from being “too old lady.”

Is shopping your therapy?

Which do you prefer: window-shopping or actually buying things?

Do you get a kick out of using your credit card ’til it smokes and buying a whole new wardrobe, pricey make-up, doing your hair and nails at the salon, and changing the living room furniture …

finding yourself overspending?

Dave Ramsey once said, “We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul.”

It is one of the reasons we spend money—that emotional gap. We collect things because they make us feel somehow comfortable. Spending on ourselves makes us feel momentarily happy. After all, we deserve that treat. (Not so.)

Soon, we’re right back at the same low emotional place, and we’re tempted to spend even more money in order to feel good again.

We realize things don’t do it.

We’re not alone. Many post milennials are going minimalist because they’ve learned that living in a junked-up house is tiring. Too much stuff means too much to clean, put away, and it produces mental clutter and oppression. The decorating pendulum has swung the other way. Now, we enjoy clean surfaces, less is more, and invite Marie Kondo into our closet so we can learn to fold and roll.

Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau decided to camp out at Walden Pond and enjoy a simple life (where he only stayed two years, by the way). He said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” (Swedish proverb)

I think that’s true.

Is it sinful to go shopping? Of course not.

Is it wrong to overspend? Yes, we’re responsible to God to manage what He has given us. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about an unjust steward. It’s talking about money (here called mammon), and the parable concludes: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:10-11, 13).

God says you either serve Him or money, not both. When we overspend, we haven’t been faithful with the money God has entrusted to us. We become slaves to money—since we owe it.

The remedy for overspending, of course, is contentment. Are we content with what we have right now? Can we be okay not spending crazily?

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Do we have something to eat and wear? Yep.

Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

Our relationship with God is sufficient for our contentment. His presence alone should bring us joy.

I’ll close with an unattributed quote I found on Pinterest: “It costs $0.00 to be grateful for what you already have.”

Fundamental rights

My country’s Constitution states, “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”*

Today, I keep hearing about other “fundamental human rights,” such as:

  • freedom from slavery and torture
  • right to have an abortion
  • freedom of expression and opinion
  • freedom of movement
  • right to a fair trial
  • 4G Internet service
  • freedom of religion
  • right to work
  • LGBTQ etc. rights
  • right to education
  • freedom from discrimination
  • travelers’ rights
  • right to personal ownership
  • right to marriage and family

While many of these should be included in basic human rights, some shouldn’t for various reasons, for example: should all people of the earth expect 4G Internet service as a fundamental right? For many of us, we can only dream of fast Internet. Many of my friends live in third-world countries, where they’re fortunate to have electricity. Yet, I’ve never heard of the right to reliable electrical service or the right to clean water or the right not to have to soak veggies in a special solution. How about the right to nutritious food? I didn’t find that in anyone’s list.

Years ago, I read a book titled, Have We No Rights? by Mabel Williamson, who was a missionary in China. It is thought provoking. She discusses the issue of being willing to give up all personal rights for the spreading of the gospel. I decided both to agree and disagree with her.

The Apostle Paul referred to his rights as a Roman citizen, and we know Jesus and Peter paid taxes. God gives authority to governments.

Do Christians have fundamental rights?

I think so. We have the rights afforded to us by our government, companies, and laws worldwide. We have rights as citizens. Citizens can appeal to government leaders, embassies, and other entities and ask for protection and help. Persons can take matters to court, if need be.

We have rights as Christians, as well. The right to:

  • prayPray without ceasing (1 Thesalonians 5:17).
  • exercise our faithAnd herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men (Acts 24:16).
  • follow ChristAnd he (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).
  • meet with others in a local churchNot forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Hebrews 10:25a).
  • give a personal testimony of God’s graceFor we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).

Some governments prohibit a Christian’s owning a Bible and exercising one’s faith in public, especially meeting together with other believers. The Christian must then choose whether to obey God or man and, if necessary, pay the cost of non-compliance. About sharing the gospel, Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We see examples of this all through the New Testament. Some paid the ultimate price. Hebrews says of those tortured, exiled, and killed for their faith: the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38a).

No one can take prayer and a relationship with the Lord from a Christian, since the Holy Spirit dwells in his heart. This intimacy between a believer’s heart and God is what being in Christ is all about.

A Christian also has the right to live his daily life to please God—every day. Whatever the cost, he can choose to obey the Lord.

Do Christians have rights?

Yes, I think so.

* Constitution of the United States.

20 Popular phrases: are they true?

A month ago, we analyzed several popular phrases. (You can access that post here.) Here are twenty more. Enjoy delving into these.

  1. You can do anything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you probably never will, but you can’t do anything you put your mind to. For example, I might want to be an astronaut, but my lack of abilities and training—and my age—would rule me out. I might want to be a world-renowned artist, chef, or singer, but I’m not up to that level of expertise. Not everyone has the ability to do everything, even if they want to.
  2. All things work together for good. The whole verse reads, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Always read a Bible verse in its context. This one’s about believers who are living in God’s will. Then, everything works together for eternal good—even if we may not understand what’s happening at the time.
  3. Follow your heart. The worst advice, ever. Emotional decisions are usually wrong. The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Jesus said, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). Thankfully, we can follow God’s guidance. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  4. When someone dies, people say “Rest in peace.” It’s a nice sentiment, but the truth is that departed souls either go to heaven or hell. We don’t exactly know what those in heaven do. Are they resting? Not sure. Praising Jesus? Yes! Hell is awful, a place of torment with no rest at all. This is why it’s vitally important to share the good news of Jesus’ salvation with everyone. When people are bereaved, we need to be especially careful that our speech is true and helpful. Many times, the best thing we can say is, “I am praying for you.” Be there, if you can, and demonstrate that you care.
  5. God isn’t finished with me yet. This one definitely has some truth to it. Any born again Christian finds himself somewhere along in the sanctification process. God hasn’t yet brought him to perfection. That only happens through the merits of Jesus and when one arrives in heaven. The problem is, this sentence is sometimes used as an excuse, which is sad indeed. Our failures aren’t God’s fault ; they’re ours.
  6. Read your Bible, pray every day, and everything will be rosy. Oh yeah? Tell the New Testament apostles and martyrs that one. Tell that to Christians who suffer in jail because of their faith. This has no biblical basis at all. Jesus said, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
  7. I just sinned; God understands. Yes, God understands our frailties. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). But, excusing sin is never right. God even helps us out of serious temptations—if we’re willing to flee from them. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  8. God won’t let anything bad happen. If that were true, there would be no sin at all in the world. Adam and Eve would never have had the freedom of choice. All through history, bad things have happened, because of sin. The Bible says, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren (James 1:13-16).
  9. Pass this meme on, and God will prosper you. These kinds of statements show our ignorance of the nature of God. Who are we to manipulate God? The mere sharing of a post doesn’t make God do anything. The prosperity gospel concept isn’t biblical, either.
  10. When people die, they turn into angels and look down on us. Angels and departed souls are two totally different created beings. Angels were created as servants of God and messengers to man. They have many different functions, but they are not people. Humans have the opportunity on earth to be saved, but angels can only appreciate salvation from afar. Do departed souls in heaven look down on those on earth? I have my doubts. There is no sorrow or sin in heaven, so I question if they can witness what’s going on in this sinful world. When Jesus related about the man in hell who talked to Abraham (Luke 16), it doesn’t seem like any of them was actually looking down on earth and able to witness what was happening—even to the rich man’s brothers. It’s okay if you differ with me, but I don’t find this happening in the Bible.
  11. You’re safe in the center of God’s will. If you read Hebrews 11, it speaks of exemplary Christians: Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:38). The Bible does not guarantee safety to any Christian. In fact, many suffer for His sake.
  12. If you have enough faith, God will heal you. This is a dangerous teaching, as it’s false and misleading. While the Bible does state that the prayer of faith shall save the sick (James 5:15), it also shares how Paul asked three times that his thorn in the flesh be taken from him, and God refused saying, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul’s response was acceptance. He said, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (1 Corinthians 12:9). It’s not always God’s will to heal.
  13. When you read your Bible or pray, the devil gets scared. I read at least once that the devil sees a godly woman getting out of bed in the morning and says, “Oh no, she’s up!” This might bring a chuckle, but it doesn’t represent truth. The devil fears no one but God. Only God has more power than he.
  14. God made me this way. This is often used as an excuse for personal sins. We should never blame God for our own sinful choices. The truth is that God made us with one purpose: to glorify Him. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11).
  15. A single person must still have something to learn from the Lord, therefore they don’t yet have a spouse. This shows a huge misunderstanding of biblical teaching. The Bible clearly talks about singles and married people, both equally in the will of the Lord. Paul even says he wishes everyone would remain single, as he was. (See 1 Corinthians 7:32-40.) The Bible never makes a similar statement to this about singles, and neither should we.
  16. Ask Jesus to come into your heart. The idea comes from Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. It is misleading, especially to children, to tell them they need to ask Jesus into their hearts, because children usually think literally. But, someone can be saved by wording their giving of themselves to the Lord this way. Personally, I prefer explaining repentance from sin, understanding that Jesus is the only One who can save, and calling opon Him for salvation. The Bible does refer many times to Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling in a born again believer.
  17. God wants you to be rich, so give, and He will give you back many times more than you gave. First, God wants you to be holy. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16). God does promise to meet our needs. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). This passage is about giving: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). It’s a general statement that those who give will reap goodwill from others. There isn’t anywhere in Scripture that says God wants people to be rich.
  18. At death, people “cross that chilly River Jordan” over into heaven. A friend actually heard someone say that the reason a man in their church was lingering in a coma was because “he was looking for a shallow place to cross.” The idea of passing over Jordan comes from the Old Testament, where the Israelites were on the verge of crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Canaan. It has nothing to do with death. 2 Corinthians 5:8 describes a Christian’s death as being  absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Jesus said to the thief beside Him on the cross, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). Nowhere in the Bible does it say people cross a river in death, not even a warm one.
  19. Christians should always be happy. While there are some who give the impression that life is all ha-ha and smiley, you won’t find that in the Bible. It is unreal to deny grief, sorrow, and trials. While a Christian has deep, abiding joy, he doesn’t always have to display a goofy grin across his face. He can be genuine. In fact, Christians are supposed to Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
  20. You deserve it. Well, no one deserves anything good. The Prophet Ezra prayed, And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this (Ezra 9:13-15). Thank the Lord for His mercy, in spite of our great failings. We are so undeserving!

May the Lord help us all to be careful in our speech and writing and give us discernment. May we always communicate biblical truth.

Again, thank you, girlfriends, for your help in my brainstorming session. You guys are the best!

Have you enjoyed these? Please let me know. Any additional popular phrases you’d like to share? Feel free.

14 popular sayings, but…

You read them every day. They’re interesting phrases, but they don’t necessarily agree with the Bible. At best, they’re verses taken out of context. At worst, they’re just pithy phrases.

Let’s look at them:

  1. I can do all things. This partial verse comes from Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. The context is about being content in extremely adverse circumstances. The Apostle Paul is in prison when he wrote these words. The verse just before this one says: I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Jesus can strengthen a Christian to forebear in even the most difficult situations.
  2. You’re not supposed to judge. While it’s true that God is the ultimate Judge, the Bible tells us by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20). This is speaking of Christians displaying the fruit of the Spirit—one evidence of a person who is truly born again. Jesus said, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). Also, the Bible gives the church mediation judgment in disputes and for cases that require church discipline.
  3. The devil made me do it. Ever since Eve, people have been blaming the devil for their own decisions. Each person has at least a split second to decide whether to do right or wrong. In the beginning of the book of Job, we see that the devil can certainly afflict and tempt, but he cannot make anyone do anything.
  4. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Cleanliness is certainly desirable, and the Bible often refers to washing (ceremonial, for hygiene, and customary kindness to guests). But, you won’t find this statement or anything close to it in the Bible.
  5. You certainly earned a place in heaven. No one can earn a place in heaven. It’s a gift. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  6. We’ll wear crowns in heaven. We read about Paul getting a crown of righteousness from Jesus at judgment day—along with others who are true Christians. Those believers who endure temptation and persecution will get a crown of life. At the appearance of the Lord, believers will get a crown of glory. The purpose of these crowns? I don’t envision believers walking around like kings and queens with crowns on their heads. In Revelation 3:10, we read about the twenty-four elders casting their crowns in adoration at Jesus’ feet. I believe we receive crowns in order to offer them back to Jesus in appreciation for His salvation.
  7. God helps those who help themselves. Algernon Sidney was quoted saying this by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac. This isn’t Bible and never was.
  8. Money is the root of all evil. Money isn’t the root of all evil; it’s the love of money—the desire for it and not being content. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).
  9. You got this. This is used to encourage people and we understand what it means, but the truth is that only God is in control of any situation. We are, at best, weak people completely dependent upon Him.
  10. God will never give you more than you can handle. Simply not true. I wrote a whole post about this recently. You can access it here.
  11. I put out a fleece, so I can find out what God’s will is. I know that Gideon put out a literal fleece because he genuinely needed confirmation of God’s will for him (Judges 6:37-40). God honored Gideon and performed the miracles for him. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that this is a normal or recommended way to find out God’s will. Now, we have the whole Bible, which tells us clearly what God wants for our lives. We don’t need to test God to find out.
  12. You need to love yourself, forgive yourself. I don’t think loving one’s self appears anywhere in the Bible except in Ephesians 5:28, which says: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. The Bible consistently speaks of loving God first and loving others next. It never tells us to love ourselves. It takes that for granted—and warns many times against pride. Forgiving yourself is a little weird. Only God can forgive us of our sins and short-fallings. Forgiving one’s self might mean accepting that God has forgiven confessed sin—but it’s not the same thing. The truth is, we can’t forgive ourselves. Only Jesus can forgive.
  13. I’ve got a mansion waiting for me in heaven. A mansion? John 14:2 actually says, In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. The word mansion means a place to abide, an abode (Vine’s). God is preparing places in heaven. What will they be like? I have no idea. What does a changed body need in heaven? Though we probably won’t ramble around alone in huge houses, we’ll have some kind of place in heaven—and it will be amazing.
  14. God showed up. We know what people mean by this, but God is omnipresent—everywhere in the universe at once. He is not able to show up, since He’s already there. The psalmist asked, Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10). Kin to this one is, “Let’s invite God into this space,” as if He weren’t already there and as if He needs an invitation to be anywhere.

Wasn’t this fun? We’ll explore some more of these sayings in the future. A shout-out to my girlfriends who contributed to my brainstorming session. Thank you so much!

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).