My Story // Part 4: The Light

One morning I was sitting in my room writing when I heard a loud voice listing Bible verse after Bible verse. 

I was confused at first, but then remembered that my mom had told me that she had invited the homeschooled girls’ basketball coach that she assisted over to talk about her beliefs. My mom had told me that she had noticed the lady do some strange and different things, but that she thought that they shared similair beliefs.

I peeked out of my door, my mom and the lady were sitting at the kitchen table, both of their Bibles open.

My Story: The Light

I had never heard someone list off so many verses like that, it was effortless. 

I listened in from my room, “Yep,” I thought, “that lady is crazy.” 

When the lady left, my mom turned to me and said, “I’m pretty sure she’s in a cult, it’s called the church of Christ, she says it isn’t a denomination.” 

How can something not be a denomination or a sect? I wondered.

“What did she say?” I asked.

“I don’t think she thinks we’re Christians.” 

My mom has always been the strongest and godliest person I know, so that seemed insane. 

I thought we would move on, accept the fact that my sisters’ basketball coach had some wacky beliefs and never talk about it again, but that booming voice kept coming from our dinning room. 

I could hear the pages of the Bible flying every direction.

“I don’t think we’ve been obeying the Bible, Grace,” my mom said one day, “I don’t think we’re Christians.” 

“Mom, that’s insane. Her crazy talk is getting to you.” 

“Every story about someone becoming a Christian in the Bible says “and then they were baptized”, if it wasn’t a part of salvation why were they immediately baptized? The jailer’s family was baptized in the middle of the night, if it wasn’t a step, why didn’t they just wait?” 

I was in disbelief that my mom could believe something like that, “What about the thief on the cross? He wasn’t baptized. Are you saying that if someone dies without being baptized that they aren’t saved?” 

My mom wasn’t shaken by my questions, “The thief on the cross died under the old law, Jesus himself said he could go to paradise.” 

“That’s crazy to think that.” I shook my head.

I went to my room and I wrote a paper, I wrote all the arguments for the sinner’s prayer I could find, all the arguments for grace and belief only.

I gave it to my mom, she gave it back covered in Bible verses and the corrected context of the verses I gave.

One night my mom was crying, “Grace, He doesn’t hear my prayers.”

“What?”

I haven’t been baptized for the remission of my sins, and God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinners read John 9:31, Psalm 34:17, Proverbs 15:29, Isaiah 59:1-2. All these years I have been praying to Him, but my sins have separated me. I’m not a Christian. I don’t know how your dad will react, but I need to get baptized.” 

I was in shock. How could my mom believe she wasn’t a Christian? 

The next night my dad picked me up from the movie theater I was at with a friend, “We have to go to that church of Christ building,” he told me when I got in the car, “your mom is getting baptized.”

We drove in silence before I broke it, “What do you think, Dad?” 

“I think she was a Christian before, but if this makes her feel better to do it, then she should do it.” 

“Do you think we’re Christians?” I asked.

“Yes.”

Yet, all those verses kept running through my head.

My mom was baptized that night and added to the church (Acts 2:47).

“God, I know I don’t have the strongest relationship with you,” I prayed one night, “but does that mean I don’t have a relationship with you at all? Is baptism essential? Are they right?”

I knew if they were, I wasn’t saved. I prayed the sinner’s prayer at five, I was baptized as an outward sign of an inward decision at twelve, there was never any talk about remission of sins or that baptism was a step just like hearing the gospel (Romans 10:13), believing (John 8:24), repenting (Acts 2:38), confessing faith (Romans 10:9), and then baptism into Christ, that for some part we had left out.

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Sunday rolled around, we went to the church of Christ building where that lady who studied with my mom went and where she was baptized. I sat with a few of the high schoolers.

“I have a question,” I asked one of the girls next to me, “since I haven’t been baptized, you guys don’t think I’m a Christian, so I shouldn’t take communion right?” 

The girl looked uncomfortable, but she nodded yes.

“I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, I just don’t want to offend anyone,” I told her. I decided not to take it. I had been taking communion since I was five, it felt wrong. I felt like I was doing wrong by standing down from my beliefs, but I wasn’t even sure if I was right anymore.

The man that preached that morning used more verses than I had ever heard in a sermon before.

I was in awe, I felt so happy to finally just be given the Bible, not some political rant or a feel good speech from the pulpit.

My brother and I talked about how different it was on the way home.

“Did you write down all those verses?” my brother asked me, “I’ve never heard so many verses used at once, it was awesome. He really knew the Bible.” 

I felt confused. I had braced myself for a cult, for lovebombing, but all I had been met with was sincerity. I wasn’t used to sincerity.

These people were friendly, and they loved the Lord and clearly knew their Bibles. They had no doubts on where they stood with God and His word.

I realized that I wanted that. 

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One night I opened my Bible to study like I usually did, I was reading through Proverbs at the time and during my reading I came to verse fifteen of Proverbs twelve:

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

I’ve been closed, I realized. For years I have wanted people to just give me book, chapter, and verse and now that people are, I am not listening. The least I can do is listen

“God, if you can hear me,” I prayed, “please help my heart to stay open to your word, I just want to obey you.” 

I stopped sleeping.

I couldn’t sleep.

I read through those verses about baptism over and over again.

I read all the stories about salvation, even the ones that didn’t mention baptism seemed to imply it when I put it next to the rest of the Bible.

I cried, read my Bible, and cried some more. I would open my mouth to pray but all of my sins came to my mind along with Isaiah 59

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” -Mark 16:16

“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”-Colossians 2:12

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”-1 Peter 3:21

Through faith; the answer of a good conscience toward God.

Repeated over and over again in my head.

It’s obedience, I realized, that’s all it is. 

Why did what I was told by denominational people make me feel like it was disobedient to obey God? Like I was lacking faith to obey God?

The next day was Christmas, I didn’t sleep that night, the day passed in a blur.

I knew the truth.

I couldn’t ignore the Bible anymore.

I was afraid to be baptized though. I knew it was a big commitment, and I knew that I was wrong about a lot of the Bible. I didn’t want to make a commitment without understanding it fully. No more incorrect beliefs. I had been in the dark long enough.

The preacher’s wife came to my house the next day to study with me.  

We read through John 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-5,

2 Timothy 2:10, says IN CHRIST. How do we get into Christ?

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”-Galatians 3:27

After the study, I said the words I had been dying to say, “I need to be baptized.” 

“Are you ready?” my mom asked me.

“I know what the Bible says, I know what I need to do.” 

I grabbed a change of clothes, and we were off. It was the scariest car ride of my life. I didn’t know where my soul would go if we got into a crash, all I knew was that I needed to obey the Bible immediately.

“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”-Acts 8:36

My first thought after coming up from that water was, “I am His, I can die now.”

It wasn’t in a morbid way, but I felt such a calm knowing I had fully obeyed the Bible, knowing that I was saved.

If you think this is the end of this series, it isn’t.

Like all things, this is only the beginning. 

My Story // Part 5: The Start

Modesty: The Definition and Those That Ignore It

Modesty.

Even the word used to make me feel immediately defensive when I was younger.

What End When This Pandemic Does (4)

Modesty.

That word with that vague meaning that snobby, stuffy people dressed as pilgrims used to make themselves feel superior to everyone else. <—–My old definition.

At the ripe old age of thirteen, I was up in arms about it. My family and I use to dress more conservatively, but I remember the day when I realized that my knee-length khaki shorts weren’t “trendy”.

The memory I have vividly is going to the fair and seeing all the other girls wearing makeup and short shorts and feeling so plain and out of place.

I started pushing for shorter shorts, shorter dresses, lower cut shirts after that, my parents didn’t like it but they realized that they wouldn’t always be able to control me and feared me going all out when I was eighteen if they tried to repress me.

My mom never approved and it was obvious, but the people at our denominational congregation at the time wore short shorts and low cut shirts, so we had a lot of confusion on the matter.

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So why did I change (literally)?

That is the question most people ask.

When I was baptized, and when I realized that I had been wrong about my previous views, I finally accepted that I needed to know what the Bible really said on topics so I could obey fully and correctly.

In the denominational world, modesty was never fully explained to me, it was vague.

It was “be modest”.

It was the moms telling the girls to wear t-shirts to a pool party while the boys were allowed to be shirtless.

It was never the greek words.

It was never looking back at the old definition for modesty and seeing that it hadn’t changed.

I was taught that modesty was more of a conviction matter. If those shorts don’t bother you, wear them, etc. But I have been learning that’s not what the Bible says at all.

I’ve heard people complain that modesty isn’t a black and white subject, but it is.
Modesty can be added to based on culture (In some countries wearing something shorter than your ankle isn’t ok, so as Christians, we wouldn’t go be immodest in their culture), but it can’t be decreased from what the Bible says.

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What does the Bible say? 


A popular and often used verse is 1 Timothy 2:9:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array”

  • Shamefacedness: a face that can blush, immodesty, or being immodest should shock you.

 

  • Sobriety: Control, clear judgment.

 

  • Broided hair: oftentimes women would braid gold into their hair to show off their wealth, other times they wore gold to advertise that they were selling their bodies.

 

All in all, this verse seems pretty vague on the standard of modesty, right?

 

That’s because modesty had already been defined in the old testament, the people hearing this didn’t need a definition for modesty, they already had one.

Gen 3:7 tells us about Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, thus they made “aprons” for themselves.

  • Chagowr means a loin covering, basically, they covered their private parts.

In verses 9-10, Adam and Eve knew that they were still naked and hid from the Lord.
In verse 21, the Lord made them coats and clothed them.

  • Kethoneth, a tunic, a coat that covered from the shoulders to the knees.

In Isa 47:2, it talks about bringing shame by “making bare the leg, uncover the thigh”. This should bring shame on anyone because it is immodest, and thus nakedness.

In John 21:7, it talks about Peter fishing naked but putting on his coat when he spotted Jesus on the shore to swim to him.
The word for naked that was used is “gymnos” which means “undergarments or clothing that didn’t cover your shoulders and went to your knees”.

I’m not saying that this dismantles the whole “swimming in fewer clothes is okay because it’s swimming” argument… well, actually, I am. Because it does.

There are more verses that talk about clothing and they are:

Lev 16:4, 2 Sam 10:4, Exo 20:26, 1 Thess 4:4, Proverbs  7:10, Proverbs 11:22

I would greatly encourage anyone to study these verses.

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Now, that I’ve explained the biblical definition of modesty, let’s talk about the people who know better but ignore it.

If you know better, do better. 

There’s a difference between being ignorant than being aware of what is immodest and still choosing to be immodest, and that’s a dangerous difference because that is disobedience to God and the standards He set.

I’ll have to admit, I’ve been very sad and disappointed lately.

I joined Instagram yesterday, and I’ve seen pictures of sisters wearing things I know they know are immodest.

I’ve seen skimpy dresses, swimming suits, and leotards, all on girls that I know understand modesty enough to follow it.

These are girls I’ve sat through modesty lessons during summer camp with, girls that I have talked to about modesty before, girls that have nodded their heads along to devotionals about this topic.

Sisters that if I didn’t know them and if I didn’t know they were Christians, I would assume were a member of the world instead of God’s family.

What happened to Romans 12? Is being fashionable in those short shorts really worth ignoring the Bible? 

These are not only sisters I love, but sisters that know better, and it’s terrible.

It’s terrible that you are choosing to disobey the Bible.

It’s terrible that you are posting those pictures for our brothers in Christ to see.

And this isn’t just the girls although our gender is often the bigger culprits, why do I see shirtless pictures of brothers who I know are aware of the definition of Biblical nakedness?

The other day someone made a comment that there are more weak Christian girls than guys and I disagreed.

The difference is that weak Christian girls are easier to spot because they have more options to dress immodestly.  

The guys who shrug at immodesty, repost immodest pictures of girls and set that trash willingly before their eyes are just as weak.

“It doesn’t bother me.”

Either you’re lying or you have been desensitized.

You know what, immodesty when it comes to girls doesn’t bother me either. I can see a girl’s shoulders, thighs, chest, etc. and not care, I’m not attracted to girls, it doesn’t affect me.

But you know what bothers me? The lack of obedience to the Bible when I know those people know better. 

 

And that’s really all I have to say for today, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

If you read this post, please study, and if you know better, do better.

Being modest is hard, but it’s possible, and 100% worth it. 

 

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Even Still, God is Good

The women’s GroupMe for my congregation currently is a constantly updated prayer list.
It seems like every day, more and more messages come in about how we need to also pray for this family because their grandparent is sick, or how we need to pray for another family who are currently grieving a death.

It’s overwhelming scrolling through sometimes.

It’s easy to forget God’s goodness and love for us when we read about the latest death from this virus, watch another loved one wither away to cancer, or watch the latest shooting being replayed on the news, it’s so easy to feel hopeless.

Even Still, God is Good

It’s so easy to look into the future and see only darkness, and yet, God is still good. 

Last Sunday’s sermon’s topic was on why evil exists. The seven points that the preacher presented were:

  • Freewill (1 Peter 4:15)
  • The choices of others (Romans 14:7)
  • Natural law (Acts 20:9)
  • Satan (Job 10:16)
  • For doing right (1 Peter 2:20)
  • To make us better (Job 5:18)
  • Time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

Regardless of the evil that is in this world as the result of Adam and Eve’s sin, God has always been good and He always will be.

When I was younger someone once said that it was fitting that my name was “Grace” because I would show people God’s grace.

It was a mushy thing to say, and at the time, I pictured myself getting into a terrible accident and barely surviving as a sign of “grace” and I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

But isn’t that what all our lives show? 
God’s goodness is evident in my life, from every breath I breathe to every hymn I sing for Him.

Sometimes I look up during worship and the fact that I wouldn’t be a Christian and wouldn’t know all of the people that I love the most if the lady that studied with my mom never reached out or if we had been in a different place in life and had been closed to the Bible, just hits me full force.

It’s a wow moment, and out of everyone in my past who isn’t here, I am. It almost feels like I don’t deserve to be there.

That feeling is amplified when I think of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

God could have left us with this mess we’ve made, alone to die in this world of sin, separated from Him, doomed to hell (Romans 5:12).

But He didn’t.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”-2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus died one of the worst deaths imaginable.

Death on the cross was for the highest crimes in Rome, one would be nailed to a beam and left to hang. Because your body weight would pull you down and would pull on your diaphragm, you would end up having to push up with your nailed feet to exhale, this painful process obviously would repeat.

Eventually, people would typically die from asphyxiation, but that could take up to five to twenty hours of complete and utter agony.

Jesus died in one of the most painful ways for us. 

Yet, people still will tell you that God isn’t good.

Listen, no matter what happens to me on earth, God is still good.

Break every bone in my body, He is still good.

Take the breath from all of my loved ones, He is still good.

No matter what happens to you on earth, God is still good. 

“Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”-Psalm 106:1

 

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”-Psalm 23:6

No matter what, God is still good. 

The fact that you and I are still here and have a chance to obey Him and to go to heaven, is yet another sign of how good He is.

Throughout the evil and chaos of this world, we can find comfort in God and in who He is and that His plan is far greater than anything we could ever fully wrap our minds around.

I love what Joseph said to his brothers, and I think that one day Christians will be able to say this to the world:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”-Genesis 50:20

People are impacted by evil, but the impact of God’s word is far more powerful. 

The goodness of God is far more powerful. 

And I pray that we don’t forget that, even when life gets tough.

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What are your thoughts about the goodness of God?
How do you see it in your life?

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