This is a first for me. I have copied and pasted on my blog things I have run across that I thought was worth sharing. This is something I wrote about 2 years ago, that was on a blog I started and only posted to once. Not that it is fabulous writing, but something I needed reminded of, and we all do:
I just finished reading my first Tom Clancy book, Patriot Games. A good friend of mine decided I needed to branch out with my reading, and loaned me his copy.
The book has made my mind think, which can be a good thing. The main characters went over and above the norm in trying to protect their loved ones, and also the Royal Prince and his wife. Man, they had an all-out war going with casualties right and left trying to protect them.
Although the book is fictional, we would all react the same way if our family were threatened. I am single, and live alone, but I would die to protect members of my family, especially my nieces and nephews. So why on earth have I surrendered a more precious thing to the greatest enemy ever, over and over again? As precious as "my kids" are, my soul is far more precious in light of eternity. Yet, when the devil comes with temptations that will ultimately hurt me, I have opened wide the door, and not even tried to fight him off.
So what is with that? Sometimes I think we don't realize what a spiritual battle we are in. I know there is a lot of disagreement over eternal security and the like, and I am not going to say anything to start a debate, but I will say this: I would not want to be committing an act of sin when I die, or when Jesus splits the Eastern skies and comes back for the faithful. Whatever a person believes about eternal security, it isn't safe to wager one's soul on it, and that is besides the point of living a life pleasing to God.
Anyway, whether or not we can lose our salvation, that aside, if Satan can get us to fall back into sinful behaviors, we become useless as Christians at least, and that alone makes him happy. I have people I pray daily for, and even at least one that I pray for several times a day. If I let sin have it's way in my life, I cannot pray for these people, and not that I think my prayers alone are that important, but who knows how important our prayers are? Just knowing there are people praying for me is a great encouragement to me. I think next to "I love you", "I'm praying for you" may be the most important thing you can tell someone.
We wonder why things go so well for awhile, and then BAM, seemingly out of the blue, temptation hits, and everything seems to go wrong. It is simple. Though it sounds dramatic, we are in warfare, and Satan isn't a nicely trained American soldier. He is a terrorist, like the ones in the book I just read. Terrorists strike when it is least expected, and are good at infiltrating even the safest locations. That is why it is so important to daily be in prayer and the Bible, and to stay accountable constantly.
I no longer want to swing open the door to Satan. He is the enemy of my soul, and no matter how attractive he makes temptation look, it is just a grenade, bomb, scud missile, UZI, or the like, disguised by pleasure. It sure isn't worth giving in. I want to fight, and stay strong.
Part of that staying strong, is taking my daily "meds". The book my friend and I are doing, Game Plan, by Joe Dallas, came up with the term. My daily meds are praying, reading my Bible, staying accountable, and reading my 31 reasons. They are reasons I want to stay clean, and not give into the "sin that so easily besets me".
This is a war, and I want to be found faithful, and not surrender any ground that I have gained, by God's grace. There will be periods when it seems the devil leaves us alone, and temptation is far away, but we can never relax our guard, but must be prepared for anything at any time.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believed, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This is a first for me. I have copied and pasted on my blog things I have run across that I thought was worth sharing. This is something I wrote about 2 years ago, that was on a blog I started and only posted to once. Not that it is fabulous writing, but something I needed reminded of, and we all do:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I am officially done with winter! We didn't get as much snow as they called for, but the roads are terrible. Since my church starts in one hour, and no one has called us, it doesn't look like they are calling off, though everyone else I know has called theirs off. I think if the rapture took place, someone would still want to have church. I personally think it is too much to ask people to go out on a night like this, but I don't get a vote. We are staying in anyway, and not braving the bad roads. Will most likely play a game or 2 of Golf - not the golf you play with clubs and a ball, but the kind you play with Phase 10 cards - if you never tried it, you should - it's fun!
Even though we don't think much of Obama, we are careful what we say in front of the kids, so Pam was surprised - and amused - the other night when Benjy (4) prayed "And don't let Obama do anything bad........" - wow, out of the mouths of babes - that is the kind of prayer we all need to be praying!
My uncle, who is older than my dad, I think in his early 70's, had a fall. Even though you may not know him, thought I would put the conversation between myself and my cousin's wife here for the amusement of any who wants to read it...................
Carol: "Did you hear about Dad B's fall?"
Mark: "no, did he get hurt?"
Carol: "He went to work, didn't have a key for the van, so climbed on top of a crane to get one. Slipped, fell, and knocked himself out. Okay...quit laughing. I can hear you laughing. You have that Buzard tickle bone. No one was around, when he came to, he was vomiting. Got home, and mom and Rhonda insisted he go to H. He's in there now. possible concussion"
Mark: "wow - ok, i did laugh"
Carol: "I know you did. I seriously can hear it in my memory"
Now the good news is, he only had a light concussion, and is home. To my further amusement, I called in to see how he is doing, and my aunt answered. During the course of the call, I mentioned that I had talked to Carol (her daughter-in-law) on line, and she had told me about it. My aunt asked, "Carol Enline - who is that?" :-)
It has been a long and lazy day here. My boss called off work, because so many people called off, there wasn't going to be enough to do the work, so we will be working Friday instead of today. I only wish I had known in time to shut the alarm off and go back to sleep, but no, she had to wait until I was about ready to walk out the door. :-)
Paul and Pam's church is in a district revival meeting this week - the meetings are at their church, and they are housing the evangelist, but had to call off tonight due to weather. The evangelist, eying the icy parking lot, told them if they had church, it would be "when the saints come sliding in.................." By the way, why do churches have revival services in January, the month we seem most likely to have bad weather?! Is there better rates then with evangelists?! :-)
My friends in Indiana finally got more snow than us, and I am happy for them. Steven has been griping about their lack of snow every time we get some, but Indiana outdid us this time! They have close to a foot of global warming. :-)
Here is hoping the Cessnas from Paul & Pam's church make it home safely. They are holed up in Columbus until the weather improves enough for them to go home. Their daughter Pam was staying with them, and they had just had enough of her, so regardless of the weather, they set out for Columbus yesterday to get rid of her. :-) Actually, she was due to go home soon, but they tried to beat the bad weather. Here is praying they make it home safely. And I bet you thought the stranded Cessnas were airplanes! Hmm, wonder if that is where the planes got their name? You never can tell people's age for sure........ :-)
We just had a nice winter supper of stuffed pepper soup and corn bread. The "stuffed" part is kind of misleading, as nothing is stuffed in the soup - the peppers are free floating, cut up in small pieces, but it is really good, even though it may sound strange.
Well, enough of my winter ramblings, off to beat Mom and Dad in golf - though they usually beat me!
Posted by Mark at 5:56 PM
Monday, January 26, 2009
This is depressing, but only if you live in Ohio. Or Oregon, or North Carolina........
The state of Ohio is losing too much tax money they used to get from gasoline. Why? Because people are buying more fuel-efficient vehicles, and trying to conserve gasoline usage. So, our wonderful people in government here are exploring a wonderful plan that is either being used in Oregon, or going to be, and is being explored in North Carolina: A tax on gasoline mileage. Yes, you would pay taxes on how many miles you drive your car, clocked by a GPS unit everyone would have to have, I suppose at your own cost. I had heard several weeks ago that Oregon was discussing the idea, and thought it was crazy then - now my own state is considering it. Arrrrrrrrrrgh!
Posted by Mark at 10:12 AM
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Two non-depressing posts in a row - what is this world coming to! - actually not a blog post, but the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Video posted if you like Southern Gospel
Stand For Jesus
Marching forward to the gallows with smiles upon their faces
Filled with might, led by love, singing victory's song
They've stood for truth without recant
Now instead of death they see
A crown of righteousness awaiting gloriously
Stand for Jesus, when tempted by the enemy
So there's never any question
And all the world can see
Stand for Jesus, and in your trying hour
You'll have testifying power
Stand for Jesus
You may never face the gallows, but you'll face the deceiver
He'll take you to a pinnacle, and offer you the world
For peace he'll give you pleasure, and for love - a lustful measure
He is overcome, the victory’s won, for Jesus you can Stand!
And you'll stand with the ones who stopped the mouths of lions
Turned to flight great armies
Which the flames didn't burn
Through weakness were made strong
I was given a message today that my blog has been too depressing, and a certain gentleman is getting depressed reading my blog. We can't have that, so here, just for you, Mr C., is something more cheerful! :-) He is right, it has been depressing, but if I am depressed about Obama, everyone should be depressed! :-)
We just ended revival services last Sunday with James Plank. Man, what a great preacher! I missed the first two nights, due to weather conditions. The roads were pretty bad down our way, but really enjoyed his messages the rest of the week. I think I can honestly say I have never heard a preacher say the amount of things in the amount of time he did. He didn't waste any time getting his points across. This may sound terrible to admit, but anyone who reads my blog knows I am a bit outspoken. Maybe a lot outspoken. Anyway, I don't always enjoy the preachers we get for revival services, but I don't get a vote on who we get, but I highly approved of Bro. Plank.
I was sitting in Sunday School class this morning, and thought the couple in front of me, AWC students, were sitting a bit too close - shoulders overlapping. Vicki and Steve were here for Sunday dinner, and I brought it up - said I was surprised AWC wasn't more strict. Vicki informed me the couple got married over Christmas break, so they are allowed. It doesn't end there though: Vicki felt it necessary to tell the couple about it tonight at church, to my mortification. Guess I deserve it, as I have embarrassed my siblings on my blog.
One more thing on the lighter side: Paul & Pam had communion at their church tonight. When they walked in and Benjy (4) saw it, he said "Good, there's food and drink tonight - I won't be hungry!" After it was over, he remarked, "man, that was good!"
And a joke to close. I'd like to put the cartoon here, but can't find it now. A man in prison clothes is sitting in front of a woman, and a sign behind her identifies her as a resume' writer. She is saying "you are correct. "R. Sims, a man of many convictions" sounds better than "R. Sims, paroled prisoner"............
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Whether it interests you or not, everyone should go to www.whitehouse.gov , click on agenda, and explore what Obama's agenda is on several issues. Some of it on the scary side, so don't think it is bedtime reading. Seriously, some of it is scary.
One statement is made that has Dad and I scratching our heads, if someone has a good explanation, I'd love to hear it - statement in question in bold print:
"Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS."
Anyway, go to the site and be educated. It is something we all need.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I have heard several stories of schools where kids had to watch footage of the big takeover (inauguration) yesterday. In one reported instance, they played "Obama songs", in another, the kids missed a class to watch it, so they had to give up recess to make up for the class - yet they had no choice in the matter. Yet another case, a young girl was forced to watch it at school. Several kids were making pro-Obama statements. She politely gave her viewpoints, and was reprimanded by the teacher. When her mother called the principal, she was also reprimanded for having a different opinion, after all, this is a historical moment, the first half black president to take office (half black my wording).
By use of the internet and a large screen, the kids at my nieces' school were able to watch it. I don't know if they had a choice, I will give the school the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did have a choice, and that is how it should be, shouldn't it?
Should kids be forced to watch an inauguration of a president whose viewpoints & policies they completely oppose? Or should they have no choice in the matter, since it is a historic event, whether or not it is the first half black president to be elected, or the "normal" inauguration we have every 4 years.
I cannot imagine the outcry by the liberals if this were John McCain's or George W Bush's inauguration kids were being forced to watch. It would be the end of the world in their eyes, yet when it is a liberal & Democrat, everyone should watch it.
I know inaugurations are important, and this is a historic occasion as the first ever half black person takes over the presidency, but I do believe that no one, child or adult, should have to watch any inauguration of any president, whether they agree with him or not. And that is my two cents. :-)
Posted by Mark at 5:20 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I admit it. I am extremely depressed about Obama taking over the presidency. More depressed than I can explain. Frustrated. Discouraged. I have avoided all talk shows and news sites today. If I heard the name "Obama" 50 years from now, it would be too soon.
I was chatting with one of my friends last night, and was expressing all this. He basically said something to the effect that God raises leaders up, and I also think he said it must be God's will - if he didn't say that, someone else did. But is it really God's will? Has He really raised up this man to be president of the USA? I don't believe that it is.
I think Christians are in a habit of just saying things are God's will when they don't turn out the way we want or expect. It has almost become a cop-out. Obama did not become president because it was God's will. He became president because too many people who profess the name of Christ decided it wasn't important where he stood on the moral issues, and swallowed everything the media said.
Obama will most likely further the gay cause, and the cause of abortion. Disagree with me if you will, but if we say it was "God's will" for him to be president, then we must assume it is God's will for more babies to be murdered if Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act as he plans. That is is His will for same-sex marriage to be legalized, and all that would do to our country.
Was it God's will for abortion to be legalized in the first place? His will for prayer in schools to be outlawed? His will for countless children to be abused and molested?
All too many things have happened in this country because those who call themselves Christians have sat on their butts and let it happen. Too many Christians won't even take the time to vote, and too many who do, vote on their pocketbook, not on the Bible. And all the while, they quote Scriptures of how God says it will get this way, so it is all in His plan, all in His will. Baloney.
God, or God's will, gets blamed for a lot of things. People get issues with their church or school, so they claim it is "God's will" to go somewhere else, to remove their kids from that school. The young guy - or girl - doesn't want to invest in a relationship that much, and want to play the field a bit more, so it is "God's will" for them to break up. Maybe we should spend more time seeking God's will BEFORE we start to date that person, BEFORE we start to attend that church.
Claiming God's will has almost become a way of doing what we really want to do, but to look better, we claim it is God's will. I wonder how much time is really spent coming to the decision that something is God's will.
There is a term called "The butterfly effect". In simple terms, it is the belief that a small change can have enormous variations, kind of like the ripple effect. We have no idea what effect will be the result of changes we make so lightly. By taking your kid out of the holiness Christian School and putting your kids elsewhere, your kid could lose some influence he needed. By dating that person, you could wreck your life. By attending the secular university instead of Christian, you might lose your way. And there is a place for some of those things, depends on the people and situations, but it does make me wonder just how much, and how strongly God's will is sought anymore. Do we already have our minds made up before we even pray for God's will?
Praying God's will can be taken too far. It really isn't going to make a difference to God if I wear green or blue today, or if I have spaghetti for supper, or have chicken casserole, but I believe we are leaving too much out of the equation, assuming we know what is best, that we know God's will without asking Him for it.
In the Old Testament, Israel wanted a king, and badly. Finally, God let them have one, but let them know that it wasn't His will. Could it be that when we pray for God's will in a situation, that God sees how badly we want to do it, so He steps aside and lets us claim it as His will?
This may sound totally far out, but I have to even wonder if every disease, every handicapped child, every barren couple, is God's will. Could it not just be the way things turn out, the results of Adam and Eve's sin? Just because a baby is born with Downs Syndrome, does it mean it was God's will? Was it God's will for Joni Eareckson Tada to become paralyzed, or did God use her accident for good after it happened?
I find it hard to believe that everything that happens, good or bad, is God's will. Is it God's will for a young mother to be taken, leaving behind a crushed young husband with young children to raise? When these things happen, we chalk it up to God's will, and that He had a reason, and it's all in His plan. But are we sure of that? Was it really? Or was it just a result of living in this sinful, wicked world, where bad things happen to bad and good people alike? It rains on the just and unjust, and if I read the Bible right, being a Christian doesn't guarantee no grief or suffering here below.
Life isn't always going to go the way we want. Sometimes it seems like it never does, but all too often it is either because of choices we made, choices someone else made, or just life here in this sinful world. Not everything that happens is God's will, even Barrack Obama becoming president. That was our fault.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Today marks the last day of the presidency of President Bush. Even if he were being replaced by a good man, I would still feel sad, but I feel all the more saddened because of what he is being replaced with.
It is frustrating, even on this last day of his presidency, how he is being treated. CBS flashed his current approval ratings compared to Obama's approval ratings and made a big deal about it. But wait - how can you have approval ratings on presidential performance, when you aren't even president yet? But that is just part of the Obama mania we are seeing.
Bruce Springsteen had to take parting shots at President Bush........what does he know, he is just an empty-headed celebrity.
Even sadder, a bunch of idiots -yes - idiots - who are activists in DC are holding a "yes we can arrest Bush now" rally tomorrow along the immaculate inauguration parade route. They want Bush prosecuted for war crimes.
The wicked witch of the House, aka Nancy Pelosi, is open to Bush being prosecuted. Prosecuted for what? Keeping this country safe since 911, something no one thought would happen? We all thought there would be more attacks, and there have been attempts. There has been 31 known attempts, in fact, which were stopped because of policies and actions done by this horrible man, George W Bush.
I think a great discredit has been done to him. The media set out to demonize him and destroy him, just as they try to destroy anyone or anything good. All of the empty-headed, immoral celebrities jumped on board to try to convince the world of how horrible of a person he was.
Has he been the perfect president? No. He has done some things, and said some things that made me wonder what on earth he was thinking, but he has kept us, and our freedoms safe. There has been no legislation put forth nationwide that has damaged us as Christians, or harmed our freedoms.
Abortion is still legal, but he has appointed judges who will help our cause. He made embryonic stem cell research illegal, a big victory for the pro-life movement. He has not legalized same-sex marriage. He has been a man of faith, which may be the exact reason the media has hated him so much.
Tomorrow, another man will take the helm. A man who is worshiped by the media and celebrities, and it seems, most of the USA. This man doesn't care about the unborn - he wants all hospitals to be forced to perform abortions. He wants to raise taxes, cause our electricity costs to skyrocket. Spread the wealth. Legalize same-sex marriage, open the military to gays. Where will we be at the end of his term? Will we be allowed to say homosexuality is wrong? Or will we be fined or jailed for "hate speech?" Will our pastors face arrest if they refuse to marry a same-sex couple? It isn't a far stretch. If the so called "hate crimes" legislation is passed - and he will pass it, if same sex marriage is legalized, then the next step would be to fine us for saying it is wrong.
As I stated before, pray for Barrack Hussein Obama, if you feel you must- but if you pray for him, also pray that any schemes or agendas that he has that will hurt our country and freedoms will be thwarted at every turn. We are in dangerous times, and we have a dangerous administration taking over the country. Only God can stop him from doing irreversible harm.
I have read many people who say that history will tell the truth, and will be kind to Bush. Although he would never read my blog, I'd like to take the chance to do it now. Good-bye, Mr President. Thank-you for keeping us safe, for sacrificing yourself to public opinion to do what was right. Go with God.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Only three more days before the big take-over. I am not just being a doom and gloom person, I really believe that our country is in trouble, and our freedoms could be doomed. Let's see he has promised to allow gays in the military, and now a tape has surfaced of him saying he is for same sex marriage and would fight for it. He wants to further the cause of abortion, has picked some really dandy people for his cabinet picks, is all for gun control.
I am really tired of the Obama mania. People do act like he is a god, and is to be worshiped. There are even shoes with his face and president number on. His inauguration will cost an estimated $150 million in this terrible economic time we are in, while Bush was criticized because his cost $40 million. I am really hoping that the worst weather hits DC on Tuesday........ Speaking of Obama mania, Itunes has grouped together 48 pro Obama songs - you can download separately, or buy the whole package together. Can anyone say overkill?
He is trying to portray himself as being like Abraham Lincoln. He is using the same Bible for his immaculation ceremony that Lincoln did.........now isn't that just precious?! He will roll into DC by train for the immaculation, duplicating Lincoln's arrival by train for his inauguration, and will attend a concert at the Lincoln Memorial. I am just surprised that he is using a Bible at all............
I cannot see any similarities between he and Lincoln. Certainly not in honesty. Lincoln was known for honesty, and Obama has lied so often that he probably doesn't even know what is true. Lincoln had integrity and principles. Obama sold his out years ago to further his agenda and career.
Many people who are not for him, say we should pray for blessings on him and that he succeeds. I am with Rush Limbaugh on that one: To wish he succeeds is to wish that socialism succeeds, so I hope he doesn't succeed.
On Tuesday, President Bush will leave office forever. The same media who catapulted Obama into the White House by refusing to investigate him, and giving him a celebrity-like status, has made the world hate Bush, and think he has been a horrible president. He hasn't been. Has he been perfect? No, and has done and said some things I disagree with, but he has kept this country safe, helped the pro-life cause, and hasn't been doing hanky panky like Clinton did.
America didn't want a good man, they wanted anyone who wasn't Bush, and in three days, we are getting what we probably deserve. God have mercy on America, and I pray that He does not bless Barrack Hussein Obama, but thwarts his plans on every side where they will hurt our freedoms and further the liberal agenda.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Inside Her Head: real girls give their opinions
Look Cool: tips on taking care of yourself" OK, cars are relavent to reading the Bible how?
They have even dumbed down Bibles for adults. The Message, is a good example. I tried this one, but felt they tried too hard to make for easy reading. It was just too much. The Message doesn't stand alone for dumbed down Bibles for adults - there are others.
I think there is a place for kids' Bibles, but as they grow older, so should their Bibles. By the time they become teenagers, they should be able to read a "normal" "grown-up" Bible.
I think it is a great idea to use a different translation once in awhile. A parallel Bible is even a great idea - you can read the same passage in a few different versions, but I think we should be careful in how far we go, whether it be in Bibles for our kids, or for ourselves. We should have to think about what we read. Commentaries and study Bibles exist for a reason, so we can dig in a little more. The words and language doesn't have to be akin to street language, or language that a 5-year-old can understand.
It seems as Christians, we don't want to work for our religion. We want easy, short sermons, with lots of stories and things to make us laugh. We don't want to hear things that will make us examine ourselves and cause us to work at getting closer to God. We want to read Bibles that we can skim like the morning news, and not have to pore over and try to understand it.
I didn't randomly decide to blog about this. I get emails from CBD with Midweek Markdowns. The first Bible shown was on that markdown list for $1.99 - maybe there is a reason for that! Anyway, I read the description and have been stewing about it. :-)
To restate a point, I do think exploring versions is good, and variety is the spice of life, but we need to be careful with the versions we read. Too many aren't translations, but paraphrases which are man's idea of how it should be said. Also, the further away from the original mauscripts, the further away they get from what God was actually saying. If you paraphrase too much, do versions from other versions, something is going to get lost in translation, and it could be something very important. Man's ideas of how something could be said better could change the meaning completely of what God was trying to say.
In closing, I will share an amusing story: When I worked at the bookstore, we had a coupon in our catalog to get one free greeting card from a new line of cards that had just come out. A pastor's wife was spending forever looking at them, so I asked her if she needed help. She had a dilemma: all of the cards she was finding has verses from translations other than the King James, and she was trying to find one that did use the KJV. She finally brought her free card to the counter and commented that she would just have to cover up the verse when she gave the card. I thought to myself "good grief woman, it is free, you don't even have to take it!"
I think we should be careful, but let's not be afraid to explore a different, but good & reliable translation than just sticking with the same one we always have read. We might see something we never saw before.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I don't understand people who love winter so much. I strongly dislike it. Hate seems a strong word, but it's pretty close. :-) Every time that insane ground hog says 6 more weeks of winter, I want to find him and blow him into next winter. :-) I am not a fan of extreme heat, but prefer it over the cold. Spring is my season. It isn't too hot or too cold. New life is appearing. Winter is everything I dislike........
Winter is harder on your vehicle.
Heating bills are higher.
The roads are messy, you can never keep your car clean. Yuk. I think winter is also dreary. It's harder to be cheerful when everything is a dull grey around you. The lonely looking trees seem more dead than alive, with no green or signs of life.
The seasons of the year are often used to depict seasons in life. Back when I read books by Janette Oke - before I graduated on to better authors........... :-) I read a series she wrote called "Seasons of The Heart". The third book was titled "Winter Is Not Forever". I don't remember a lot about the book, but in it, everything seemed to go wrong for the main character. The winter was rough, and it seemed spring would never come, but it did, and that was another story.
Steve and Annie Chapman did a cool song several years ago, "Seasons of A Man". The first verse is sung by a little boy, the second by a teenage boy, the third by Steve Chapman, and the last, by an older man. Goes like this............
I am the Springtime
When every day seems so fine
Whether rain or sunshine
You will find me playing
Days full of pretending
When a dime is a lot to be spending
A time when life is beginning
I am the Springtime
I am the Summer
When days are warm and longer
When the call comes to wander
But I can't go far from home
When the girls become a mystery
When you're barely passing history
And thinking old is when you're thirty
I am the Summer
And I am the Autumn days
When changes come so many ways
Looking back, I stand amazed
That time has gone so quickly
When love is more than feelings
It's fixing bikes and hanging ceilings
It's when you feel a cold wind coming
I am the Autumn days
I am the winter
When days are cold and bitter
And the days I can remember
Number more than the days to come
When you ride instead of walking
And you barely hear the talking
And good-byes are said too often
I am the winter
But I'll see Spring again in Heaven
And it'll last forever
I love the song, but it's kind of sad, and it also makes me wonder where I am in the song. Since birthday #40 is 4 short months away, I would guess that would put me in the Autumn. Scary.
Winter can symbolize more than age, as in the song above. I believe a lot of us have seasons in our lives. Sometimes it is like Spring. Everything seems new and alive. We seem to live on the mountain. Or Summer. The days seem carefree, and all is right in our world. Life is like a vacation at the ocean. Or we could be in Autumn. Things aren't going too well, and it seems everything is draining us. We think things can't get worse, but they do. Winter comes. Not physically, but emotionally, spiritually. It seems we barely make it through each day. It seems the devil is fighting his hardest, and God is sitting afar off watching with disinterest to see if we will fail, or succeed. We never know when that winter might come. It can come as a result of losing a loved one. The loss of a job, discouragement, depression, or for some reason the devil just seems to declare all out war on us.
I have had those times, and oddly enough, when I have been at my lowest, the title of that Janette Oke book comes to my mind that I read so long ago......"Winter Is Not Forever".............
Perhaps one of the best stories to illustrate the cold reality of winter is found in the book "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe", one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. When the book begins, all of Narnia is imprisoned in a never-ending winter. A land where it is always winter, and never Christmas. The White Witch rules over the land, and has made it eternally winter. If you have read the book, you know Aslan comes, and with him, comes Spring, and new life.
It seems not much good is related to winter. It can only symbolizes what is bad in life. Death, old age, loss, discouragement. Is there any good that comes out of winter? Kids enjoy playing in the snow, when we have it, but other than that, is there really any good for this horrid season of the year? If we actually get snow, that helps the farmers - something to do with the melting snow. But it also makes us thankful for the spring and summer days. When there is more to do than bundle up and try to keep warm. We have the hope that new life will come. That those ugly, dead-looking trees will be filled with green leaves. The grass will grow again, flowers will pop up everywhere. We can plant gardens, grow things.
The same can be said of the seasons of our lives. If we are in the winter of our years, Heaven can't be far away. If we are going through a winter-like experience in our life, it can make us thankful for the times when God seemed so close, and all was right in our world. Sometimes it's hard to have hope, but if we have had the good times in the past, then we can be assured that Spring will come again.
Indeed, winter is not forever. Just as spring and summer never lasts forever, so the bad times never do either. It may seem like it drags on forever. The ground hog keeps popping up and seeing more winter, but it won't last forever. Spring could be right around the corner.
Wow, I did not see this coming. Though I have never been a fan of Guy Penrod's long hair, he is a great vocalist..........
1/13/09 (Alexandria, Indiana) - With mixed emotions and tremendous optimism about the future, Gaither Music Group announces major personnel changes for the Gaither Vocal Band, including the return of some of the group's best-loved alumni
.After more than 14 years as the Gaither Vocal Band's lead singer, Guy Penrod will now begin a new journey. Bill Gaither is delighted to announce today that Guy is pursuing a new direction as a solo artist.
It is a bittersweet transition as Penrod will miss sharing the stage with his comrades and he will be greatly missed.Bill Gaither states, "I am losing a lead singer, but I am not losing a friend. I am extremely grateful for the incredible contribution he has made to the Gaither Vocal Band's legacy." Guy Penrod has said in response, "My years with the Gaither Vocal Band have been among the most glorious of my life. Now, though, with the Band continuing in strength and me tackling the new challenge of a solo career, we can all serve our God even more powerfully in the days to come."
As Gaither has stated at various times of transition, "You never replace a group member... you simply find a fresh, new direction." And with that philosophy at heart, Bill Gaither has gone far beyond simply replacing his long-time lead singer. He has completely recreated the Gaither Vocal Band, now expanding the size of the group from four members to five and bringing back an all-star cast of voices from the Vocal Band's rich legacy of talent.
Effective immediately, the new roster for the five-member Gaither Vocal Band will be: Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Michael English and Mark Lowry. Mark Lowry will complete all his previously scheduled solo engagements through April 2009 and will appear with the Gaither Vocal Band at every available opportunity during this transition, beginning with the Gaither Caribbean Cruise on February 22.
Marshall Hall, who has sung with the group since 2004, will no longer serve as the group's baritone and will be missed dearly by his friends both on and off the stage. He is a talented singer and producer, as well as an experienced worship leader, who will undoubtedly enjoy a solid future building on the experience gained during his five remarkable years with the Gaither Vocal Band.
The public's overwhelming early response to the January 20th release of The Gaither Vocal Band Reunion DVD, as well as the group's 2009 Grammy nomination, has already begun what could be the group's most unforgettable season yet.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I read a story today that irritates me. Many of the comments on the story just annoyed me more: http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1144341&srvc=home&position=1. Therefore, I shall get my trusty soapbox out.........
A female teacher seduced a 13 year old boy, and carried on a 2 year affair with him. Many of the comments on the story go on about how lucky the boy was, that it would be a fantasy of any boy his age, that it is different when it is a boy seduced by a woman.
Should it be different? If a man has sex with an underage girl, or boy, he is toast. He goes to prison for a very long time. If a woman has sex with a boy, she usually gets a slap on the wrist, because of sexual dynamics, to put it less bluntly. You would think that in this day of women wanting to be like men - equal rights, and all that - shouldn't they get equal prison time for sexual molestation? Is it any less wrong?
What should be done to an adult male who coerces your 12 or 13 year old daughter to have sex with him? If it were your son being coerced by a woman, would you feel the same way? I think most parents would, other than the idiots out there, like this comment:
" I notice a lot of comments have been removed. I suspect people don't want to hear opinions from people like myself who consider this kid to be very lucky. He knew full well what he was doing and most young men or grown ones to crave this kind of relationship. We have bizarre prudish laws in this country regarding sexual consent that do not have their basis in biology but rather certain peoples religious beliefs. If you want to believe in the invisible man in the sky and live your life according to his teachings that's fine but don't impose your goofy belief system on me or my kids."
The guy above is obviously a lunatic, and someone who sounds like an atheist. People like he have no morals, for they have no God to give them morals.
I don't have any kids, so thus some people think I am not allowed opinions where kids are involved...........but, I do have nieces & nephews. My oldest nephew is only 7, but whether he was 7 or 13, if an adult woman had sex with him, first off, I'd probably be behind bars for assault, but I would want him behind bars forever. This idea that because boys can't really be raped by a woman, and are sex addicts just waiting to happen, is absurd, and is a double standard. Women deserve to get the highest penalty possible for having sexual relations with underage boys, as men do for the same with girls or boys.
I have never, nor would ever, have sexual relations with an under aged kid, but this double standard annoys the daylights out of me. Unless we crack down on women predators, we will continue to have more and more of this problem. Adults should not have sex with kids. Period. It doesn't matter the gender of the adult or kid, it is wrong, and should be punished to the highest degree.
As a country, we seem to be going downhill morally. There are, sadly, people who want to lower the age of sexual consent. We need to fight this trend with all that is in us, and punish sexual crimes with no double standard.
There is more talk of hate crimes legislation being passed. Every time I hear the term "hate crime", I think of a book I used to have, and may still have. It was a book of cartoons drawn from a Christian perspective. On the front, was a picture of a woman and man getting held up at gun point by a gun man wearing a large smiley face mask. The woman was exclaiming "Thank goodness it isn't a hate crime!"
Why on earth should we treat crimes differently if the person is gay or black, which seems to be the main 2 special groups that this crazy legislation covers. If I understand it correctly, someone could beat up and kill an innocent elderly woman, or a little kid, and if they beat up and killed someone who was gay or black, their crime would be worse? And more punishable?
I am against crimes against anyone. Yes, it it should be a crime to beat up and/or kill a gay person, but in no way should it be any worse than the same crime against a straight person. It is ludicrous. What is behind this, is special treatment for gay people, and if passed, will go on to include "hate speech". It isn't a far reach:
Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of the High Impact Leadership Coalition was among a group of black pastors who, two years ago, took out a full-page ad in USA Today titled "Don't Muzzle Our Pulpits." The ad, which was widely received, argued that the hate crimes bill before Congress threatened the free-speech rights of pastors. Jackson believes such legislation elevates the homosexual community to a protected class.
"It puts their claim that they're discriminated against into a real civil rights argument," Jackson contends. "And ultimately in every place around the world where this kind of legislation has been passed, we find that people have taken out lawsuits against preachers for preaching what the Bible says about sexuality and morality. And it is grounds for a kind of harassment that, I believe, will bring a cooling of our biblically-based messages."
Jackson says under an Obama administration there is a danger the legislation will pass and stick, so he's issued a challenge to Christians. "Now is not the time to be silent," he says. "Now is the time to lift our voice." (http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=379590)
I was trying to find a picture of the book I referred to earlier, and ran across an interesting article. The article is about hate crimes against ex-gays. People who have left the gay lifestyle and are trying to live a normal Christian and heterosexual life. http://pfox.org/Hate_crimes_against_exgays.html If this "hate crime" legislation is passed, I highly doubt it will cover these people. As the article states, "it seems a homosexual person is more valuable than a former homosexual." I also doubt Christians will fall into the victims that hate crime legislation would cover.
If this legislation is passed, we will be well on our way to losing our freedoms of speech. Eventually what our pastors say from the pulpit could get them in trouble. What we blog about could get us in trouble.
Motive should not matter when someone intentionally beats up and/or kills a person. It shouldn't matter if they did it because of sexual orientation, or if it was a gang hit, or for money. If we start making crimes more or less punishable because of the motive, we are on shaky ground. If this legislation comes to a vote, we all need to do our part and fight it - call & email our congressmen. Don't take it sitting down.
I would strongly suspect that if this legislation comes to be law, that any crime against a gay person, will be a hate crime. It won't matter why the crime was actually done, it will be decided it was sexual orientation. Crime needs cracked down on. Period. Not just against gay people, but all crime.
In closing, an incident that seemed to really spawn a lot of the push for hate crime legislation, was the unfortunate killing of Matthew Shepherd back in 1998. He became the poster boy for hate crime legislation, and the incident was sad, and horrible that anyone should ever have to go through something like that. Yet, something the media will never make a news story out of, is in an interview with the killers a few years ago, the killers both tell that his sexuality was not the issue. The whole deal was about drugs. But it makes a better cause for hate crimes if they never tell that part.
A week from tomorrow, Barrack Hussein Obama will take over the country, and begin putting his agenda forth. That is more scary than the scariest horror movie or book out there. By the time he is through, we may not have any freedoms left. I hear and read all this stuff that we need to pray for him and pray blessings on him, etc. I disagree. Pray for him if you want, but pray that God somehow guards our freedoms and stops him from destroying our country and freedoms.
We live in scary times. We need to do our part. Watch for bills like hate crime legislation, and others that may do more harm than good, and pray that God has mercy on us as a nation during this incoming administration, and that at the end of it, in spite of the liberal agenda, that America will still be free, and will still be the greatest nation on the earth.
Posted by Mark at 12:53 PM
Sunday, January 11, 2009
For those of you connected with my church, or know the Vermillyeas from my church, who just lost their grand daughter and her children in a car accident, here is a link to a blog where someone has posted pictures of the family. Thought I'd pass it on: http://andrewgrahamfamily.blogspot.com
Online Obituary: http://stei.tributes.com/obituary/show/84980995
Friday, January 9, 2009
PETA is at it again. This is too good to not pass on. If you need a chuckle, read on........
"As much as it sounds like one, this is not a joke. The over-zealous animal lovers over at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, are now campaigning to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change the name of fish to "sea kittens".
PETA would like to change the name in order to improve the image of fish as a species.
On the PETA webpage entitled "Save the Sea Kittens!", PETA claims that "People don’t seem to like fish” and that “we’re going to start by retiring the old name for good.” They are urging their members to sign a petition that asks the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stop the "hunting of sea kittens (otherwise known as fishing)."
PETA makes the arguement that "Sea kittens are just as intelligent (not to mention adorable) as dogs and cats, and they feel pain just as all animals do."
They're also a source of food for many parts of the world, and the word "fish" is used everywhere from books to menus. Changing the name from "fish" to "sea kitten" will never happen, and I'm sure the US Fish and Wildlife Service is having a good laugh already, as would the rest of the world if our government would ever be so stupid as to honor PETA's request."
Hmm, maybe if we change the name "fetus" to "baby", it will help stop women from aborting them if they think of them as a baby.............
OK, as a PS, I went to the site after I blogged, and if you are reading this, you just gotta check it out - you can get sea kittens t-shirts, create your own sea kitten - its hilarious! http://www.peta.org/Sea_Kittens/index.asp
Posted by Mark at 9:38 PM
I am a fan of Ted Dekker's books. He writes unusual Christian books, and some I have liked better than others, but he is a great author. Other than the use of "hell", as telling people to go there, in his book "Sinner", I have had no issues with his writing, and he told me it would not be in future printings of his book.
I received an email from him, sent out to everyone who is signed up for updates, that grabbed my attention. It was a link to his newest blog post, titled "The Challenge of Being Gay". The post isn't at all what it sounds like, but I had to disagree with him on the post. Here is the gyst of the blog in a few sentences:
" For starters the term “Evangelical” is fast becoming a measure of ones fanaticism and dedication to particular political and social agendas rather than a term that denotes doctrinal convictions or affiliations. The term “Christian” is close on its heels. Put together the meaning of phrase “Evangelical Christian” means one thing in Atlanta, and another thing entirely in New York or Boston. In one city it means protestant, in another it means bigoted, politically motivated, fundamentalist who hates liberals and is willing to take up arms to prove it. Or something like that."
I disagree with Mr. Dekker. The world doesn't view us as fanatics and hate us because of what we call ourselves, but because of what we believe. They hate us because we say abortion is murder, that homosexuality is a sin, that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and that you must live by the Bible to make it there.
I am not ashamed of being Evangelical, or Christian, or both. If we don't refer to ourselves as Christians, what do we call ourselves? And is it going to matter to the world what we call ourselves? I think not.
I am not sure if Dekker is saying we should just love everyone and try not to block liberal agenda and protect our freedoms, but one could almost get the idea from his blog that he is espousing that idea. If anything, I believe we have been too gulity of sitting back on our butts and letting the atheists, the gays, the abortion crowd take over the country and our freedoms. From the start, we should have been calling, emailing, boycotting, whatever it took to stop the liberal takeover of our nation.
Could our methods be better? I am sure. The answer is not to bomb abortion clinics, beat up homosexuals, and actions like that. We need to love people, but we also need to speak out against sin. Don't let the homosexual agenda take our freedoms of speech away. Call abortion what it is: murder. Tell the world that Jesus is the only way, but love people.
John 15: 19 says "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." I John 3:13 says "
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you."
Sounds to me that in light of these verses, that it doesn't really matter what we call ourselves, the world is going to hate us. So who is right, Ted Dekker, or the Bible? He seems to think by not calling ourselves Christians and/or Evangelicals, we will be more accepted and be able to evangelize easier. I think not. They hate us for our beliefs, not for the name we call ourselves.
I really ticked off some the home schooling mothers awhile back with daring to express my viewpoints on home school verses Christian school. If I did a similar post, and called myself "John", or "Michael", would they just throw their arms around me and love me? No, of course not! It isn't my name that makes them irritated - it is my message, or viewpoint. Likewise, I can quit calling myself a Christian and/or Evangelical, and still be an irritant to the world. They still won't like me. Why not?! I call myself something else now! I am not Evangelical, or Christian anymore. I am.........ok - I am stumped - what would we call ourselves?! Ah - how about a Sojourner! "I am a Sojourner. Abortion? Um, I still think it is murder. Fanatic? Hateful?! No, you don't understand, I am not a "Christian" - I am a Sojourner. You can accept me now, like me now! No, Islam isn't the way, Jesus is the only Way. No, I am not a Christian! I am a Sojourner - we aren't fanatics.........." Ok, that didn't work, how about "believer"! Believer in what? Oh, Jesus. No! I am not one of those fanatics................"
OK, maybe I exaggerate the "conversation" above, but I do think I have a point. Yes, we need to show more love, but we cannot compromise or sit back and let the liberals, atheists, and the like, destroy our freedoms. We have to speak out, but in a loving way.
It is also true that many Christians have given us a bad name. There are preachers who have publicly fallen into sin, and made national headlines with their indiscretions. People have bombed abortion clinics, killed homosexuals, in the name of Christ. But we should not run from calling ourselves Christians, or Evangelicals. What we need to do is to show the world that though there may be "bad" Christians, that we are not one of them. That yes, Jesus IS the only way, that sin is sin, no matter what you call it, or who accepts it, but that we will love, as God loves. Will we still fight the liberal agendas? To quote Sara Palin "you betcha!" All that we need for bad to progress, is for good men to do nothing. (paraphrased quote from someone).
I don't think Dekker is promoting the idea that we compromise and sit on our butts, but his blog could give that idea. I do know this: He may be ashamed to call himself Christian & Evangelical, but I am not. It is who I am.
And my apologies to my home school friends (and enemies!) for using home schooling as an example. :-)
Comment if you like, on my blog, or on Ted Dekker's. He wants comments. And yes, I commented - a short version of this blog. :-)
I know we have no idea what other companies are funding, and I rarely drink Pepsi products anyway, and who knows what Coca Cola does with their money, but thought I would pass it on. Pepsi is definitely funding the same-sex marriage movement, and the gay agenda. I am not saying to do everything in the email I pasted below, though it wouldn't hurt to boycott them - the other side does when their cause is at stake:
"Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire e-mail list of family and friends.
PepsiCo gives $1,000,000 to help promote the gay agenda
Company forces employees to attend sexual orientation classes
January 8, 2009
PepsiCo has refused a request by AFA to remain neutral in the culture war. The company indicated that it will continue major financial support of homosexual organizations. AFA wrote Pepsi two times (on October 14 and October 29) requesting a meeting to discuss Pepsi’s neutrality in the culture war.
On November 17, AFA received a condescending letter (dated Nov. 7) from Paul Boykas, director, public policy, in which he refused to address Pepsi’s support of the homosexual agenda.
In the last two years, Pepsi has given $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and $500,000 to the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The $1,000,000 was to be used to help promote homosexuality in the workplace. Pepsi refuses to give money to any pro-family organization that opposes the homosexual agenda. Plus, every homosexual organization we know of is overwhelmingly pro-abortion.
Both HRC and PFLAG supported efforts in California to defeat Proposition 8 which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. HRC, the homosexual group financially supported by Pepsi, gave $2.3 million to defeat Prop 8.
Pepsi forces all employees to attend sexual orientation and gender identity diversity training where they are taught to accept homosexuality.
• Sign the Boycott Pepsi Pledge. After signing the pledge, please call Pepsi (914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652) and tell the company you will boycott their products until they stop promoting the homosexual agenda.•
Call the Pepsi bottler nearest you and ask the bottler to ask Pepsi to stop supporting the homosexual agenda.• Pepsi’s products include Pepsi soft drinks, Frito-Lay chips (800-352-4477), Quaker Oats (800-367-6287), Tropicana (800-237-7799) and Gatorade (800-367-6287).• Print out the Boycott Pepsi Pledge and distribute.• Forward this e-mail to your friends and family so they will know about Pepsi’s support of the homosexual agenda. Millions of people are not aware of Pepsi’s support of homosexual organizations."
Posted by Mark at 12:38 AM
Thursday, January 8, 2009
It's bad enough when other things get my mind going, and it results in a blog post. Sounds worse when your own blog makes you think and gives birth to another, but oh well, it gives me something to do. :-)
Nadine Covert used to be a traveling evangelist before she married, and was at our church in PA several times. I will never forget the time she told of a conversation between she and her unsaved sister, concerning the perfect church, and who would be in it. They each named some names, agreeing on the people would be in their perfect church, and then one of them stated that since the goal of a church is to win the lost, you needed unsaved people in it, but then they realized it wouldn't be a perfect church anymore.
There is no perfect church, and if there were, I wouldn't even be allowed in the parking lot! I remember coming from PA to college in Ohio in 1988. We had a few weeks to pick an area church to go to, and we had to attend there any week-end that we were at the college. That was tough. No church was like "home". I tried the Salem church, where I attend now, and didn't like it at all. Had you told me then that I would someday attend there regularly, and call it "home", I'd have been incredulous. It was too big. Too unfriendly. The preacher preached way too long. I went elsewhere, and didn't attend Salem regularly at all during my 4 years at Allegheny Wesleyan College.
The search for the perfect church is like trying to find the fountain of youth. It ain't gonna happen. So what do we do? We search for the best church for us, and for our family.
The most important thing is to find one that lines up doctrinally and theologically with what you believe. Don't go to one that will compromise you, just because it is nicer, friendlier, etc.
Though of much less importance than the belief system, you of course want a friendly church, a church where you can feel comfortable, and I don't mean sit on padded pews!
Freedom is important. You should feel free to testify and join in the services and activities of the church, and not sit on the sidelines feeling like an insider. Its nice to have a church where your kids will have other youth to be with, and a good youth program, but too many focus on that, instead of finding the best spiritual church.
And your church should be a place where you grow, and not stay where you are spiritually, or worse, digress.
I am sure there is much more to be said on that, but for now, that is what my pea brain came up with.
There is a movement on to have "home churches". A study has been done, and they find that many people who do a certain thing are starting to have home church. (To protect myself, I won't say what that is..............) Why do we go to church? Maybe a better question is, why should we go to church. Here are a few things I came up with, not an exhaustive list, but a "Mark" list.
1) Worship. It isn't a fashion show, or a family reunion, we are there to worship God. In song, offerings, testimonies.
2) Edification. We all need to hear some good preaching, but we can also get it from the testimonies of others.
3) Growth. The natural course of fire is to go out. We need to be in church to keep the fire going, to throw some gasoline on it once in awhile.
4) To learn. None of us know everything we should about God, the Bible, spiritual things. We all need to learn more. Church is the place to do it.
5) Fellowship. Church shouldn't be a party/gabfest, but we need to be around like-minded people of faith. We will never agree on everything. I love Southern Gospel, but attend church with some people who probably think I am a heretic and heathen for listening to that style of music, but we agree on what matters, and being around others who believe as I do, is encouraging.
6) To encourage others. I don't think this is one we think about much, if at all. As I posted yesterday, we really do need each other, and we need to encourage. It can be by testifying of what God has done for you this week. An answered prayer. A "I'm praying for you" to someone you know is going through rough times. A pat on the shoulder, a hug. Telling the pastor his sermon was good, the singer that his song was good. We need to get out of our little world, and brighten someone else's world. I hate to testify. Man, do I hate it - I sit there and come up with something somewhat intelligent to say, get up, and don't say at all what I wanted, sit down and think "man, that sounded stupid!" But we never know what an encouragement we can be to someone else by a simple testimony.
None of us go to a perfect church, but we can do our part, and pray for ways to help. We can suggest changes, but remember, we holiness people don't like change!
If you could change anything about your church, what it be? I don't think I'd change much. Get lazy boy recliners instead of pews, go in sweats instead of dress clothes, valet parking...........Ah, I am kidding. I'd promptly fall asleep in a lazy boy, but the rest.......
Seriously, I would change very few things. These aren't things that will make me leave the church, as most of them are about as likely to happen as the pope getting married. But if I ran the church...........scary thought there! - I'd change Wednesday night prayer meeting. It is pretty much a mini Sunday morning or Sunday night service. I'd make it a Bible study for adults, and move the youth and kids meetings from Sunday night to Wednesday night, and start Sunday evening church at 6! I shared my wonderful idea with my family, and they said it would never happen because no one comes Wednesday nights - I said "so? If they wanted to have their meeting, they would!" I would also do more in the fellow-shipping outside of church.
God can help us find a church that isn't perfect, but is the one for us. A place we can call home, and feel at home. A place to grow spiritually and be encouraged. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together". Church is there to help us to make it to Heaven, and help us to get others there. That's what it's all about.
Not tooting my own horn here, at least not intentionally :-), but I noticed something neat on a Southern Gospel Music site I go occasionally - on the left side of the site, there is a list of blogs. Yours truly somehow got listed there. I have no idea how, but there I am!
Posted by Mark at 5:52 PM
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I had to type these up to email to someone, so thought I'd also pass them on via my blog. The first is for an easy Key Lime pie - which I have made - and the second is for an awesome dessert we call "Jimmy Carter Cake" - I know, needs a more Republican name. I have never made it, but enjoy eating it!
Key Lime Pie
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 lime jello
2 key lime yogurt
1 8 oz whipped topping
Make jello, with 1/4 cup of water. let cool, but not to gelling
Mix the jello with the 2 yogurts & the whipped topping
Refrigerate until it sets up
Additional whipped topping can be added on top, and other flavors of jello & yogurt can be substituted. The rest of the family likes the lemon a lot.
Jimmy Carter Cake (or peanut butter pudding dessert)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks of oleo
3/4 cups peanuts (crushed or chopped)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz cream cheese
1 8 oz cool whip
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 package of chocolate instant pudding
1 package of vanilla instant pudding
3 cups of milk
Top layer: 8 oz cool whip, chocolate bar
First layer: mix ingredients together and spread into a 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until done. Cool completely.
Second layer: mix sugar, softened cheese, & cool whip, spread over the bottom layer
Third layer: beat the 2 puddings together with 3 cups of milk, pour over second layer
Top layer: top with cool whip, and if desired, sprinkle with grated Hershey bar, or some other kind of chocolate. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
I had some thoughts I wanted to throw out, but not sure I can put it into words. There is a song done by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound on their new CD that I love, called "We Need Each Other, that gets me on this thought. (Video posted below, first 5 minutes or so is the actual song). I am not out to attack people on my blog, so let me choose my words carefully, and I hope I don't bounce around too much or go in circles. :-)
There was a deal that has been going on for the last couple of years that involved my denomination getting sued to stop the sale of a church that the members voted to close. That is neither here nor there, but yesterday, while approving a friend addition on Facebook, a discussion popped up that this person was involved in that was criticizing my denomination. I made a few comments out of disgust, and amazed the fellow with my "blind loyalty". (As an aside, I decided rude or not, I would delete him so I wouldn't run into this stuff, but he beat me to the punch. :-) I think it may have been my bringing up his spreading rumors and gossip about me. Oh well, I tried to be his friend. :-) ) As a friend of mine commented, the same people who accuse others of blind loyalty, are themselves being blindly loyal to something else, in this case, he is being blindly loyal to someone set on getting their own way, no matter what the cost to others. The reason they are upset isn't because you are loyal to something, but that you are loyal to something that they don't agree with.
Anyway, this blind loyalty thing has got me thinking. Is there anything wrong with blind loyalty? What is blind loyalty as opposed to just plain loyalty? My family isn't perfect, but I would stick up for any of them, fiercely. My nation isn't perfect, but I would still stick up for it. My beliefs may not be what others are, but I am loyal to them. Along with that, my church isn't perfect - none are - but I will stick up for it. If someone says it is not perfect, I will agree, but attack it, and I will defend it, as with the other things in my life that are a part of me.
Jesus prayed that we would all be one, but the religious world is far from being one. I am speaking of the religious world that is following Jesus, not other religions. We have had more splits and splinters in just the holiness movement, than anyone could ever keep track of. In most cases, I think the problems lie with selfishness, and an unwillingness to come under authority. Case in point: the first church split I was involved with really rocked my world. People I had looked up to for years left, taking many with them. I was a teenager, or just out of my teens, and had no idea what to think. The main reason boiled down to the people who left felt the pastor didn't leave enough room for God to take over the service. He felt that they tried to get something going. Since it couldn't be resolved, a split happened. All good people, but that wasn't enough.
If we treated our Christian brothers with honor, deferring, would we have splits? Would churches pull out of their denomination and go off by themselves? Would people start their own churches in their homes? I don't think that would happen. I am pointing 4 fingers back at myself when I say this, but we have too many other things on our list of priorities to focus on loving our brothers, and wanting what is best for the Kingdom of God. We want what we think is best for us, and our families. We want to go to church where everything goes the way that we want it to go, not the way God wants it to go. We want padded pews (yeah!), a preacher that preaches around 30 minutes or less (guilty!). We want to be used. We want to be visible. We want our opinions heard, and followed. When that doesn't happen, we become offended, and unhappy with our place of worship. We go elsewhere, and it doesn't change. I have known people who bounce from church to church, and never find one that they are happy with, because their focus isn't on worshipping God, and adding something to a body of believers - it is on what they want to get out of it. Sometimes people do have very good reasons for changing churches, but it should be very good.
My family changed churches once. Well, twice if you count when we all moved to Ohio - we weren't going to travel over 2 hours to church! We had attended the same church for years, even Mom and Dad as children attended there. As I said, I am not out to attack anyone, but we had good reason to leave, and it was a tough decision, but my parents did it the best way possible. They left quietly. They did not try to take others with them, and we don't spend out time maligning that church or its pastor.
It seems anymore, it is the "in thing" to criticize the church or denomination you have left. I base this on the last few years of observing people, and what they say. They want the world to know why they left, and how horrible the church/denomination was. Why do we do this? If we love each other, and love God, we will not tear His people down, nor His place of worship, even if we highly disagree with them.
I feel at this point in my life, that I am attending the best church for me. Would I change anything? Sure, but really, what I want isn't important. Would I like to see more focus on people in my age group, as opposed to focusing only on the teenagers & children? Of course I would, but that would give me no right to start making a stink about it, or leave the church. I would rather sit quietly in my pew, and be what God wants me to be.
It seems so many criticize us. Holiness churches in general, and other holiness churches criticize each other. I have worked around many people from other churches, and have found that you cannot make a blanket statement. Some of them have lied, cursed, done highly dishonest things, but I can't say that all people who do not attend a holiness church are that way. Just the same, some holiness people, of varying denominations,
If we take the "I" out of the equation, everything changes. We truly are selfish and self-centered beings, even at our best. How often do we pray before making a change in our life, such as changing churches or denominations? If we do pray, is it really God's guidance and will we are seeking, or do we pretty much have our minds made up, and just go through the formality of asking God?
Surrender. It is a scary word, and I fear all too many of us haven't really done it. We think we have. We will testify to it, but when the rubber meets the road, "I" does what is best for "I". People move out of the reach of a good church for better money. To keep friends, they compromise, just a bit. It is better to be alone & friendless, and have God, than to be popular and drifting.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is single, and doesn't want to be. They admitted that the devil has told them "if you do thus and so, let down here or there, that you will surely attract someone easier and find true love". I struggle in this area. I ask "why me?!" But it seems God has intended for me to remain single. We always think we know what is best for ourselves, but that isn't true. Only God knows.
We do need each other a lot. It seems people are always busy. You only see people at church, and then they are rushing out the door. No one has time for anyone anymore. We are more worried about us and ours. We fight, we argue, we split. If Jesus tarries, we may need each other more than ever.
What can we do for each other? Pray. It doesn't hurt to take your church directory to pray over, each family, even each name. If God puts someone on your heart, send them a note, card, email, or call them. Life can be so discouraging, and if we are down in the dumps, discouraged, and going through rough times, we want people to do that for us. Even make a nice comment on their blog! :-)
There is always God, and will always be God, but we can be His voice, His hand, in helping and encouraging others. The thing is, we need to get off our butts, focus on more than us and our family, and do something for others.
A personal example to show both of my points in one: Before I moved away, my church did something that I enjoyed. Every other month or so, they would have the young couples and singles up through my age, and maybe a bit higher, get together. Food was always involved. I think one month, they would do something with the young people - teens - and the next, it would be the married. That has changed. I have been back here 6 months, and no gathering has happened. There have been school-related functions, but people who home school or have no kids often don't come to those. We now focus entirely on the teenagers.
I miss those gatherings, and feel my church needs to focus on everyone - not just the teenagers, but I am not going to leave because of that. I will continue going there unless God directs me elsewhere. It was good to get with others who believe like you for just plain fun. We need to worship with others - there is a growing movement of "home churches" - that's no good. We need to get with people on a regular basis and worship. God made us that way, and He wants it that way. Yet, we also need that outside of church. Play games. Eat food. Have fun and companionship with other Christians.
Some churches take this too far. They have more entertainment, than worship. Our main goal must be worship. Some things do not belong in church, but some things belong outside of church, and we need them. God has made us that we need the fun times too.
I have said a lot, and I am sure will ruffle someone's feathers, but remember, I am as far from perfect as a Christian can be. God has tons of work to do on me, but as the song says "He's Still Workin' On Me". I admit, I react pretty strongly to criticism of my church and family, but hey, you home school mothers can relate - you showed me how to do it! (That was a joke, not a criticism!)
The next time we feel necessary to criticize another Christian, pray for them. Feel the need to put down a denomination? Shut up, and pray. Still have the overwhelming urge to do it? Pray for yourself!
I have a tough time reaching out to people. This may cause laughs of derision, but I am basically a backward & shy person. It is difficult for me to believe people want me as a friend, so people like me have a harder time reaching out to others, but we all need to do it. We truly do need each other.