A P U B L I C AT I O N O F O N M Y O W N N O W M I N I S T R I E S
Young Christian Woman Are You a
TA KE TH EQ UIZ Z!
GIRDLE ON! IX-NEY on
Annoying Online Ads!
Clearance Rack Reflections:
Where are all the Happy Mediums?
w w w. o n m y o w n n o w . c o m
Young Christian Woman
A publication of ON MY OWN NOW MINISTRIES
STRAIGHT TALK FROM THE PROVERBS
Godly Girls Invest in a Good Girdle By Vakerie Ralston
MOVING OUT ... SETTLING IN
When Right Looks Wrong By Kimberly Schluterman
If You Can Read This You’ve Got 10 Talents By Donna Lee Schillinger
So You Say It’s Your Birthday By Julie Ann FASHION DIVINA
14. Where Are All the Happy Mediums? By Tamara Jane
EDITOR IN CHIEF
The Last Sin Eater By Jeffrey Bridgman
Donna Lee Schillinger
ART DIRECTION Daniela Bermúdez
JUST WHAT YOU NEED
Keep it Clean Online By Jeffrey Bridgman
We see high drama in the movies all the time, but in real life, big acting does not win awards.
Straight talk from the proverbs for young Christian women who want to remain pure, debt-free and regret-free. â€œIn this interesting and thought-provoking exploration of the book of Proverbs, Schillinger takes young women along a journey that will help them to make better, safer, and more sound decisions.â€? Cheryl C. Malandrinos The Book Connection blog Now Available at www.onmyownnow.com, at Amazon, B&N and a library and bookstore near you.
GODLY GIRLS INVEST IN A GOOD GIRDLE STRAIGHT TALK by Valerie Ralston
Valerie Ralston’s more than 16 years of ministry, teaching and living out the principles established in God’s Word enable her to teach with passion, humor and conviction. Her message is straightforward, extremely real and will inspire you to be the one of a kind original God intends for you to be.
“She girds herself with strength (spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task) and makes her arms strong and firm.” Proverbs 31:17 (Amplified Bible)
ow many times have you read Proverbs 31 and wondered, “How can I possibly be this woman?” Well I have good news for you! The Bible is like a mirror, as you look into it, and start appropriating what it is reflecting back to you, you begin to resemble more and more what the Word says you are! In light of this, I want to share with you one of the “reflections” God has shown me. Proverbs 31:17 (Amplified Bible) says, “She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.” While reading Proverbs 31 countless times, I continually found myself feeling like this verse was a speed-bump. I would be reading along, but would come to verse 17 and feel like God was trying to get me to slow down and hang out on this verse for a while. The word “girds” captivated me and I knew the Holy Spirit wanted to reveal something to me. The word “gird” means: to enclose, to surround, to equip, to clothe. It’s where we get the word “girdle.” It means to invest, which is to furnish w/power, privilege & authority! Honey, when you get your girdle on, you are furnishing or clothing yourself with God’s power, privilege and authority!!! As I read this verse, God directed me to something I had not paid much attention to before. It says, “She girds herself.” So who does the girding? The godly woman that is being described. You see, it’s my job to gird myself! It’s not someone else’s job to gird me! It’s not my pastor’s job to gird me! And guess what?! It’s not even God’s job to gird me! It’s my job! Have you ever tried to put on a girdle? Let me tell you it takes some effort! Now imagine trying to put it on one of your sisters! I don’t think so! You know, there are just some things you have to do for yourself! I love that God did not make us robots, obeying pre-programmed commands, but instead, as a loving Father calls us to a loving relationship based on us choosing Him.
HOW CAN I POSSIBLY BE THIS WOMAN?
In the Amplified Bible, the strength she girds herself with is described as three-fold; it says “spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task.” She doesn’t neglect any of these areas because she understands that all three have a part in her fulfilling everything that God has for her. Listen to this definition of gird: to prepare oneself for action. She prepares herself for action so she will be ready for God’s use! She prepares herself physically and she strengthens her body, why? Well it’s not only so she can be looking and feeling good, although that is a benefit of physical fitness. No, her first reason for physical fitness is to be strong for her God-given task. You know it’s going to take some physical strength and stamina to fulfill God’s assignment for you. She prepares mentally herself by strengthening her mind. She understands learning doesn’t end with graduation! We should constantly be growing and learning as long as we have breath. She prepares herself spiritually how? Here are two ways: first, getting God’s Word, and speaking that Word out; and second, developing a daily prayer time, praying in the Spirit and in her understanding. Girls, one of the best investments we will ever make is in a good girdle! Only you can make that investment, nobody else can do that for you. Let me encourage you that every investment of time, talent and heart to your Creator will have eternal benefits for both you and everyone God wants your life to touch. So come on girlfriend! Get your girdle on!
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com
by KIMBERLY SCHLUTTERMAN
When right looks wrong Ç MOVING OUT, SETTLING IN
Once when I was in Jr. High, our youth group minister had an open-question night, where instead of having a set lesson, he let us ask Bible questions and he did his best to answer them. He was a good man so I don’t know why I felt it a personal challenge to stump him. But alas, I did, and I usually achieve my goals. So here was my stupefying question: Since 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV) tells us to avoid the appearance of evil, and premarital sex is wrong, and Mary got pregnant before she was married, didn’t God not avoid the appearance of evil by impregnating her? Oooh, I got you so good. I don’t really remember the answer he gave, but I remember thinking, “Yeah, that didn’t answer it at all! I win!” Why I was so competitive I’ll never know! How immature of Jr. High me. I’ve thought about that verse many times throughout my life, most notably when I had a feeling my parents would disprove of whatever I was about to do. If I had read the essay Sin-Sniffer’s Catch-All Verse all those years ago, however, it might have saved me a lot of confusion. 1 Thess. 5:22 is infamously misapplied, and yet it is still a good tool for discerning right and wrong in gray areas. But it isn’t the only measure. Have you ever had to do something that you knew would appear wrong, like it might be difficult to explain, but you knew in your heart it was still the right thing to do? Those are tough situations to be in. I don’t like to be in trouble – never have – but sometimes being a Christian is risky. Sometimes people misunderstand and you end up looking like the bad guy (judging sin). Sometimes you really are the bad guy (judging the sinner, not the sin), and it can be hard to know the difference. Did Jesus avoid doing things that didn’t look right if they were right? If you read the essay referenced above, you know the answer is a flat “no.” Jesus did the right thing even when he knew he would be criticized for it, and even when there were consequences here on Earth. Indeed, He was tried and found guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be God. Of course, we know that was a false accusation because He was/is God! Nonetheless, the Sanhedrin sentenced him to crucifixion. It’s true that the trial was corrupt and had political motivations (read 12 Reasons Why the Arrest and Conviction of Jesus was Illegal), but guess what: those factors
Don’t be so naïve as to think that religious persecution can’t come from other Christians.
are still motivating religious persecution today. Keep in mind that the Sanhedrin was considered the supreme religious body of Israel at the time! These weren’t atheists and secular humanists persecuting our Loud. They were Jews, believers in the Hebrew God (though pre-Christ, of course, so not “Christians”). Don’t be so naïve as to think that religious persecution can’t come from other Christians. Imagine the betrayal Jesus felt! Ultimately, when deciding whether or not to do or say something that you believe to be right and good but could be received poorly, consider the Biblical precedent for such situations. The irony is that while on the one hand Jesus was convicted of blasphemy, the Pharisees also criticized him for not acting pious enough. He managed to be “wrong” on both ends of the spectrum! Perhaps as followers of Christ, we ought to spend more time on the ends of the spectrum rather than in the middle – concentrate more on what’s right, instead of pious, and less time on not offending others. Remember how much our God detests a lukewarm Christian (Revelation 3:16). 1 Peter 3:13-18 (NIV) says,
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
ÇYou got the part about suffering for doing what is good, but did you catch the part about always being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have? That’s another aspect of living your convictions. Always be prepared! I’m afraid this is the part with which I struggle the most. When I know in my heart that my motivations are right and good, I sometimes forget that I may have to explain them later. So then I am unprepared when asked to account for my behavior and I make a poor witness. I would be smarter, though, to remember that not only is there nothing wrong with defending yourself; it’s Biblical. In fact, when the high priest asked Jesus about his teachings, Jesus replied, “If I said something wrong… testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (John 18:23, NIV). In other words, either tell me what I did wrong or leave me alone! To a far lesser degree, I kind of know how Jesus felt. Sometimes it seems like arrows are coming at you from all directions and if you let up for just a second, you’ll get struck square between the eyes. Defending yourself can get old, but Hebrews 12:1b-3 encourages us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Do not give up! Do not grow weary and lose heart. Stay in this race. When being a Christian requires you to do something difficult, something that might look wrong or will bring punishment, first make sure it is in fact the right thing to do and not motivated by selfishness or pride. Remember we are all sinners and sometimes when it looks wrong, it’s because it’s wrong. But if it passes the gray area test, do it and don’t be afraid. After all, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, NKJV). After you do it anyway, be prepared to gently account for it when you are asked. And if your account does not satisfy your critics and they are determined to retaliate, follow Christ’s example once again and don’t judge them or retaliate. Instead, pray for them and forgive. You may even have to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). After all, they probably just don’t realize what they are doing (Luke 23:34).
IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU’VE GOT
10 TALENTS ★★★★★★★★★★
O CENTER RING BY
DONNA LEE SCHILLINGER
his year on my birthday I took some time, as many people do, to reflect on my life. I’m happy to report that I think it’s pretty awesome. Not because I’ve lived in three foreign countries and visited 24 others, earned a couple of degrees and won a few awards, or not even because of my cute little family. I thank God for all of these things, but my life is awesome in much more basic ways. Not that I take any credit for this. Almost daily, I pause to think about the grand opportunity that I’ve been given to have this awesome life. If any number of things that are totally out of my control were different, I venture to say my life would not be so awesome. For instance, imagine I were exactly who I am, but I had been born in England in the 1600s. I wouldn’t have been able to go to school and use my God-given intellect. Let’s change another single fact: what if I were exactly who I am but had lingered just a little too long in the womb and, denied of oxygen, been born with a limited capacity for learning? Yea, that would have changed a few things. It’s not just me though. If you’re reading this, your life is probably just as awesome as mine.
È È È È È È
TAKE A QUICK ASSESSMENT: È È È
Were you born in the 20th or 21st century?
Are you reading this while enjoying decent health, with functional eye sight?
Were you born in a developed country?
Will you turn off lights before you get into an actual bed tonight?
Can you read?
Do you speak the world’s dominant language (hint: you’re reading it right now)? Do you have the means and intelligence to access the internet? Do you live where you can attend a church service without fear of imprisonment or other persecution?
Will you wake tomorrow morning with a very good probability of having the means to eat three meals?
Added to all these favorable conditions, do you have at least one talent or skill, such as athletic, mechanical, musical or artistic ability, good organizational, interpersonal or communication skills?
If you answered yes to these questions, you have 10 talents by virtue of the time, place, circumstance and natural endowments God gave you at birth! A child turning one year old today could (in theory) say her life is as awesome as mine! Often, when we take stock of our lives, either on our birthdays or when some new benchmark comes to our attention (like a friend buys a new car, or a neighbor goes on a cruise to Antarctica), we fail to acknowledge the 10 talents we started out with at birth. Instead, we’re more
inclined to identify certain talents we weren’t given or to completely miss the mark and dwell on stuff and things that have nothing to do with talents at all, evidenced by the fact that money can buy them. Instead of correctly understanding that we, as 10-talent people, have more than about 90 percent of the world’s population, we tend to overlook entirely our 10 talents and compare ourselves to everyone else in the 10-talent group. Compared to this elite group, we don’t rank so high and it leaves us feeling deprived. It’s a very clever optical illusion that distracts us from the truth of our privileged position.
Where 10-talent people rank compared to the world’s population
1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4
A birthday is a great time to step way back and look at the big picture and see that as 10-talent people, we are truly blessed. Recognizing and then really letting it sink in are
There was a man who was “about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
Where I feel I rank compared to the 10-talent segment
just the first steps. The bigger issue is this: What are we going to do with those talents? This might be a good time for a short story:
“The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent
came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Gads! What a scary ending. Puts the fear of God into ya! Makes me want to be sure to use my talents correctly! My birthday is also a great time to read the ticker tape and see how my talents are doing. What am I doing to multiply each of my 10 talents? This is an entirely different set of questions than the ones we used to identify our talents. If God has entrusted me with these 10 things, how am I using them to His glory? Another way to ask this might be, What have I stored up for myself in Heaven? How am I putting to work my God-given capital to build stock in His kingdom? Recall from the story that as 10-talent people, more is expected of us: we are given our talents according to our ability. If God picked us to be 10-talent people, we can’t worm our way out of being big producers with some measly excuse about our lack of ability. It was according to our ability that we received the talents. Neither, as 10-talent people, can we compare ourselves to five and one talent producers and feel pretty good about what we’re doing. Just as we are inclined to focus on the wrong scale when estimating our talents, we are also inclined to an errant perspective when we analyze how our talents are yielding. We tend to focus on what we are doing with our talents. We could more accurately assess our yield by asking what we could be doing with our talents. We may feel good about using our organizational skills on the church planning board, but could we also be organizing a citywide furniture drive for the poor at Christmastime? We may feel good that we’re singing in the choir, but what about that song that God gave us that remains in our head when it could be written, published and enhancing the worship experience of thousands of people? I’m no Madonna fan, never have been, but there is something pretty amazing about Madonna that we should all take note of: she’s not that talented. I have personally known a hundred church choir singers with talent superior to Madonna’s, as I’m sure you have. No joke, I probably sing better than Madonna. So what does she have that the rest of us singers don’t? Gumption. And, Sisters in
‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:14-30).
Christ, I am grieved to say, in general, we lack gumption. If on your birthday (or any day), you have a nagging feeling that you’ve not quite accomplished all you could or should have by this age, that could be the voice of the Holy Spirit saying gently, “Turn your television off and get to work for me!” Don’t watch TV? Then maybe you’ve allowed yourself to become too busy with things of temporal importance to the neglect of things of eternal importance, and the Holy Spirit is saying gently, “Stop shopping and get to work for me!” Or “Quit that silly job and come to work for me.” Or “Downsize so you don’t have to spend all weekend keeping up the yard and the boat and then you’ll have more time for me.” Or “Move to the inner city, which will cut your commute by two hours a day, housing costs in half and then I’ll be able to better use you as My witness to hurting people.” That nagging feeling of dissatisfaction could be any number of things the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. The important thing is to pay attention to it, slow down, figure it out, then act on it so you won’t be all “woe is me” on your next birthday. Careful though, sin is crouching at the door to redirect that God inspired dissatisfaction and shift your focus to your position among the 10-talent people and to how you rank against temporal benchmarks. Want more out of your life? Here’s the secret: Be faithful with a few things, and God will put you in charge of many things.
WHAT MORE COULD YOU BE DOING WITH YOUR 10 TALENTS? 11
so you say it’s your birthday?
SPARE CHANGE by JULIE ANN
I don’t know why but I have never really been a big fan of birthdays. I remember being upset when I turned ten as my age was now into the double digits. When I turned 13 and became a teenager, I had a near meltdown. It seems like with the turn of every calendar year I have something to lament. (I was even born two weeks late!) Since I can’t avoid birthdays as they are an inevitable part of life, I guess I should look at the bright side: cake and ice cream, presents and party favors do take a little bit of the sting out of growing older. Here’s another thing that I’ve discovered that helps: businesses who offer free products or discounts for your birthday. So whether you love or dread birthdays, here are a few tips on scoring birthday loot.
have to wade through lots of offers to find the ones that you want and qualify for. Once you find the offer you want, you will be directed to the company’s Web site and will usually have to fill out a Web form. This Web form will ask you everything from personal information such as name, e-mail and birthday to more complex questions such as which products or services you use. Be prepared to fill in a lot of information. Many of the forms will also allow you to sign up a friend for birthday offers, which might be a nice surprise for someone. Once you’ve submitted your information just sit back, wait for your birthday and watch the goodies roll in!
Since I can’t avoid birthdays as they are an inevitable part of life, I guess I should look at the bright side: cake and ice cream, presents and party favors do take a little bit of the sting out of growing older. The first thing I did when seeking out birthday offers was to set up an e-mail address specifically for this purpose. Because these businesses have a greater sales strategy in mind and aren’t just being nice, you can expect to get plenty of e-mail offers throughout the year. Who wants a million offers pouring into your personal e-mail account every day, and if you decide you no longer wish to participate in these birthday offers, you can simply shut down your account and you won’t have to notify all your contacts. Once you have a special account, you will need to locate the offers. If you frequent an establishment you may be exposed to their birthday deals just by your patronage. However, some places don’t heavily advertise these deals so you will have to hunt for them. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to run an Internet search on “Free birthday offers.” Search results will contain lists of Web sites, so pick one and start looking. You will probably want to try several sites for the most complete information. This can be a little time consuming because you will
But what if you don’t want to give out your personal information? Don’t despair because there are plenty of places where you can just show up, declare it’s your birthday and score free food or discounts. Most of the free birthday offer Web sites will tell you about these places as well. Of course, if you are at a restaurant, you’ll also need to be prepared for a birthday song serenade at your table! Also, if you have nieces, nephews, kids you babysit, etc., there are a ton of offers for kids. So check with their parents and score some free deals for them from their auntie or favorite baby sitter! Since most of these places want your business throughout the year, you will likely get product offers and discounts frequently. If your birthday is a long way off you should still consider signing up right away. Many businesses will offer you a discount for the initial sign up. Once you’ve signed up with the business you want to be sure to check your special birthday e-mail account often and celebrate the gift of saving money year-round!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY. 13
L where are all the happy mediums?
L by tamara jane 14
God saw all He had made, including female, and He declared it “very good.” Genesis 1:27-31
Recently I was at a clothing store, shopping with a gift card I had received for Christmas. I was searching my favorite place in the store: the clearance rack. When something caught my eye, I went through my routine as always, which is to look first at the price, then the size. Then I examined the tag to see how to launder it and of what material it was. Usually when I find a medium that I love, I consider altering it or perhaps just wearing a larger size if possible. However, this time around, I was frustrated by the fact that almost all the clothes on the clearance rack were size mediums. That caused me to think back to other shopping trips and I realized that this wasn’t the only time I had encountered mostly mediums. It seems that almost everything you find at a discount price is a size medium. If you’re a medium, that’s good news for you, but with so many mediums left on the rack, I concluded that maybe there aren’t as many mediums as retailers think. Where are all the happy mediums? Are they squeezing into size small? If so, I think maybe they are not happy, at least with their body size. So here’s a shout out to all you who should have bought that medium but decided to squeeze into a small, and to all those who are buying up the sizes large and extra large too. This is to say to you how special, precious, loved and beautiful you are in the eyes of your maker and to hopefully help you feel happier about your size, and not waste one more minute with self-destructive, critical thoughts. Almost everyone knows John 3:16 (the verse that tells us that God loved us so much that He sent his only Son to die for us so that we might live forever with Him in eternity). But there are many more verses that demonstrate how He loves us and how we are beautiful to him.
Let’s start at the very beginning. In Genesis 1:27-31, God saw all He had made, including female, and He declared it “very good.” You have been seen by your maker, and He thinks that you are very good. The God who makes no mistakes made you and finds you perfect. That counts for something, doesn’t it? But, in a sense, we can go back even further than that. Jeremiah 1:4-5 tells us that before we were even formed in the womb, before our parents planned on having kids, or knew each other, God knew us. Not just that another little girl, but that YOU (insert name here) would be born. And that you would be very special – so special that you would be worth spending 33 years away from Heaven and dying for! He also says in this verse that He set us apart. He sanctified us. He has plans for us that are way bigger than us. And certainly way bigger than the size on a tag at a clothing store. In Ruth 3:10, God calls us His daughters and says that we are blessed – too blessed to be moping about the size on that tag. And there are a whole bunch more verses that show us we are special. I could list more, but I want to challenge you to find some on your own. Use an online Bible and concordance; go searching, it will mean more if you find it for yourself. And then read Song of Songs. (Yes, the whole book; it’s only eight chapters.) Imagine that this book was written to you by God. Bask in His love. You mean so much more to your Creator than any pricetag could reflect. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a size. He sees your heart. Focus on making that clean, pure and set apart for Him. It’s a much more worthwhile pursuit than trying to fit into a size small or extra small. God loves you and nothing material (and how much more material can you get than clothes) can change that.
L THE LAST SIN EATER THE RECAP:
by Jeffrey Bridgman “The Last Sin Eater” is a film adaptation of the novel by Francine Rivers. It takes place among the woods of the Appalachia in settlement community of Welsh families during the 1850s. Although America was to be a new start for this community, they brought with them the dark secret of an ancient rite which chose a “sin eater” to take upon himself the sins of those who have passed away to save them from judgment. This sin eater is considered unclean and has to live as an outcast in the wilderness atop Dead Man’s Mountain, only coming down when the death bell is rung to take away the sins of the dead at funerals. Cadi, the protagonist, is a young girl haunted by the accidental death of her younger sister, who fell trying to follow Cadi across a log bridging the gap over a gorge. Although warned not to look at the sin eater at a funeral, Cadi does so, and instead of a dark evil, she sees warm blue eyes, much like her own, staring back at her in sorrow. Wishing to be set free from the guilt of her sister’s death, she seeks out the sin eater against the rules of her community, hoping that he can eat away her overburdening sins. Although the sin eater only eats away the sins of the dead, after some hesitation, he agrees to attempt it. However, following the ritual, she cries out in despair, disappointed that nothing has changed. She still feels the same. Soon afterward, unable to bear the guilt, she plans to throw herself off the same log from which her sister fell, but she is stopped by a stranger to that part of the mountains—a traveling preacher who asks her why she would want to do such a thing. After hearing
her story, he tells her the story of Jesus, who is the last Sin Eater, taking away the need for any more sin eaters to come after Him. Set free from her guilt, she shares the truth with those around her, setting the stage for even bigger, darker secrets than her own to be brought to light. The theme of forgiveness is played out beautifully in this movie. Cadi experiences the weight of sin lifted from her when she gives her sins over to the last Sin Eater, Jesus. This exemplifies the kind of forgiveness detailed in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” At the end of the movie Cadi is able to share her experience with her mother. During the conversation, she learns her mother had also been blaming herself for what happened. By talking it over, their relationship was restored. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed...” Yet, how often do we sacrifice healing, joy, peace and love because we’re unwilling to strip away our pride and be honest enough to confess to one another? This is just a sample of the kinds of thoughts “The Last Sin Eater” provokes. Although this movie may not be the newest and greatest action flick, it is well worth a watch for a moving illustration of the concept of forgiveness—and those lovely Welsh accents are great, too!
KEEP IT CLEAN ONLINE
by JEFFREY BRIDGMAN
Technology is such a powerful tool—and it can be used for good or bad. And in the battle for personal purity, technology can be a friend, like providing access to resources such as these, or a foe. Activities like sex chat and looking at pornography are too easy to get away with from the privacy of your PC. No one will ever know, right? But the consequences of those choices affect not only us, but our walk with God, as well as our relationships with those around us. That’s why it is so important to take all the necessary steps to win this battle. Here are some tools to help us win that fight. Even if you are not currently tempted by porn on the Web, take proactive measures to make sure it doesn’t catch you off guard, since so many ads and searches contain pornographic images that can plant a seed that, in time, becomes a thicket. There are several accountability/filtering software packages that are quite popular, particularly with Christian families. However, only one is both really good and free: K9 Web Protection. The company that makes it is a technology leader in application delivery networking (huh?), and developed K9 as a freebie to get good press and give back to the community. Works for me! Here are some other products that have a variety of features and price ranges. • Safe Eyes is a fairly comprehensive package. $50/year subscription. • Covenant Eyes has an accountability and filtering program that can be purchased separately. The accountability aspect tracks all the websites visited, sending a report to an accountability partner. The filtering aspect allows us to set up time constraints, block protocols, create a custom block/allow list and change sensitivity settings for multiple users. Prices start at $4.99 for filtering, $8.99 for accountability, or $10.49 for both. Adding another user is fairly cheap. • x3watch also has a free version, but it doesn’t filter any content. It just sends an accountability report to someone of your choosing. Although it can be turned off, our trusted friend, or friends, will know, so we won’t get away with it. The pro version for $7/month also includes filtering and real-time text message alerts to accountability partners to keep us from going very far down the wrong path. Beyond those listed above, there are so many other options out there—too many to document here. For a better idea, let me describe my own setup. I wanted something cheap and free, so I went with x3watch to provide basic accountability. Aside from that, since I use Firefox as my main web browser, I chose Foxfilter to filter content. It also allows to me to create a custom list of keywords or
JUST W you HAT
@ websites, so I can target particular trouble areas for me. For the password, I chose something ridiculously long to enter, like every 6th letter from a Bible verse about purity. Another good option is to have a trusted friend set the password. I also have AdBlock Plus installed. This only blocks advertising in general, but it helps keep the clutter down and has the added advantage of blocking any advertisements that might trigger sinful thoughts and desires. Time management is where the battle can be lost or won. If we are busy doing something positive, we’re a lot safer than if we are isolated, just wasting time on the Internet. Here are some cool programs to help us stay on task and keep our hands from becoming idle online. • Freedom is an app that turns off the Internet for a certain amount of time. Once the timer is set we have to wait to get our Internet back. Here’s a scenario where it might be useful. Imagine you have an essay you need to write and have to stay up late working on it alone. By setting the timer for a specific amount of time, it’ll keep you away from everything ranging from pornography to distracting YouTube videos so you can focus on getting that paper done. Or, if you have a certain troublesome time of day, like lunch time or the evenings, use these tools to block your Internet access and pre-empt temptation. Get a free trial or purchase for only $10. A similar application for Macs called Anti-Social blocks just the social networking part of the Internet. Another Mac application called SelfControl has a timer that can’t even be reset by rebooting the computer! • pomodoro is a Mac app that follows the Pomodoro Technique™ for time management. The basic idea is 25 minutes of work, then a five-minute break. This can help us stay focused on tasks that need to be done, rather than aimlessly wasting time. And if we do get off track, the alarm at the end of the 25-minute period can remind us of what we should be doing. Tools aren’t useful unless we are ready to fight. We should have a battle plan in place and make decisions to avoid areas which might be tempting because it is far too easy to give in. Here are a few good passages to fill up our minds, so there won’t be much room for filth: Galatians 5:13, I Thessalonians 4:3-8, II Timothy 2:22. With this biblical foundation, using applications such as those above can help us stand our ground in the fight for purity.