Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This has been on my mind a lot lately. I actually started a blog about it, and never finished it. After reading friend's blog yesterday, I decided to try again to put my thoughts down, jumbled though they may be. I should put a disclaimer here: I am far from perfect. I have tons of room for improvement, and most days feel like a failure in every area of my life, but these are some thoughts & concerns that I have - things I wonder about, and worry that I find the right balance also. Disclaimer #2: If you do not attend a conservative holiness church, you may want to avoid this post.

To start, here is a story from the Revolutionary War. I can't find the story on line, so I will tell it in my own words........

The winter was rough. The soldiers were freezing, and running out of wood to burn. Some soldiers asked General Washington for permission to use some of the fence rails from the neighboring farms for firewood. Permission was granted, as long as they only took the top rails. Soon, there were no rails left, for as the top rail was taken, the next rail became the "top", so it was soon taken.

Churches - and people - can be too strict. Churches - and people - can be too liberal. There are churches that throw out what the Bible says about premarital sex and homosexuality, and say you can be a Christian and be gay, and have sex outside of marriage. That you can sin daily and go to Heaven. And there are churches that say you cannot own a car or have electric, must wear dark colors and women must wear a covering. Who is right? How liberal is too liberal? How strict is too strict?

People are human. All too often, we want to get by doing as little as we can, but Jesus said this was a narrow way, a hard way. So how on earth do we decide who is right?

I go to a conservative holiness church. Many would brand us as too strict. I see many who used to believe as I do go an easier way. No longer do they look different from the world. They blend in perfectly. I try to be broad-minded and give people the benefit of the doubt, but one has to wonder - why do people try to get by doing as little as possible? Does anyone give God the benefit of the doubt anymore? Does anyone err on the side of caution?

The Bible doesn't spell everything out in black and white, but does give us principles. I wonder if it would matter if it did spell everything out, if it would matter. It plainly says homosexuality is a sin, yet that is argued, and accepted by many. It says it is a shame for a man to have long hair, yet people will argue over and around that and find reasons and excuses to get around it.

Principles. The Bible says to be modest. What does that mean? Where is the line? Again, too many people go as far as they can - the attitude is how much skin can I show, and still be a Christian? Set no evil thing before your eyes - the attitude is how far can I go with what I watch and read and still be Christian?

I have had people question me about my beliefs. Why we believe women should wear dresses/skirts as opposed to pants. Why we don't wear jewelry, even a wedding ring. Why we don't drink alcoholic beverages. Some ask so they can argue. Others really want to know. Not everything we believe can be pointed to in Scripture - the dress/pants issue can be, but is just argued away - but the principles are there.

There is something that in our modern day church world isn't talked about much. Being holy. God said "be holy, as I am holy". If we apply being holy - really apply it - to our lives, I believe it would illuminate some things for us. Would you look at the tattooed & pierced person who says they are a Christian and think they are holy? Or the young woman wearing the tight low cut top with her breasts hanging out for the world to see?

I have had the verse quoted to me many times - too many times - "God looks on the heart, not on the outward". True, but look at the verse in context: Samuel had gone to anoint one of Jesse's sons king of Israel. Jesse thought surely it was the tallest one, the best-looking one, the strongest, but God chose the youngest and smallest - God wasn't talking about what they were wearing - He was talking about something else entirely. God does care how we dress, where we go, what we view - everything that too many people think He doesn't care about.

Yet we can go too far to the left. I have seen some people who were a lot stricter than me fall off the edge and go liberal and throw out everything they formerly believed, so there is a danger of going too far to the right. What we need is a balance - and fences.

Turn the clock back about a hundred years, and all Christians looked the same. What happened? They started taking off the top fence rail. The dresses got shorter, until it became a mini skirt, then pants, then shorts so short they reveal too much. The hair got trimmed a bit, then some more, and soon you can't tell women from men.

There is a couple at my church who got wedding rings. Now she is wearing all kinds of jewelry. She took off the top railing, and then another. Is jewelry wrong? Maybe. God did say to put off the wearing of gold, and that our adorning should not be on the outward. Sounds like a principle to build a fence. Does the Bible say not to drink alcoholic beverages? Some say yes, some say no - who is right? It does say to avoid drunkenness and that wine is a mocker - sounds like God is saying it is better to avoid it.

I am not out to put what I believe on others, but I firmly believe that Christians are going to be different from the world. Look different. Act different. They aren't going to go everywhere the world goes, and engage in every activity that the world engages in.

At some point, some very wise, godly, and holy men & women looked at the Bible, and looked at society and saw where trends could go if there weren't some guidelines, or fences - in place. Are they 100% correct? Do we have to do everything our church teaches and believes to be Christian and go to Heaven? I say a cautious "no", but I think we need to be very careful in what we throw off or let up on. The video & TV is a good example. There is some good on TV - and a lot of bad. Some people can control it, and some can't. I know people I have a lot of confidence in that has a TV, but have also seen people who got one, and soon they had no standards different than the world. Videos/DVD - there are a lot of bad ones, and a lot that just aren't profitable to view - are they completely out for a Christian? No, but one should be very careful in what they view, and just as important - how often. All too many churches have done away with their evening services because people want to stay home and watch TV.

We Christians need to take the Bible and fit our lives around it, not the other way around. Pleasing God should be the most important thing in our lives, not our own entertainment and comfort. Instead of trying to get by with as much as we can and be a Christian, we should give God the benefit of the doubt more, and err on the side of caution - yet not carry it too far. We don't need to sell everything we have and go live in a monastery, or live like the Amish, but we all need to focus more on doing what God wants us to do - not our church, our family, our friends.

The key is balance. Pray and find out what God wants. I have a friend who said she could never wear dresses...........but has she ever listened to God on the issue? Maybe He wants her to, maybe not, but I'm afraid we come to God with our preconceived notions and ideas, and leave no room for Him to change anything. We don't listen, but just assume we are right. Find a church that is going to line up fairly close with what we believe. Are we going to find a church that we agree with 100%? I doubt many people will, but if there are issues we differ on, we should be careful of our attitude about it, and our reasons. I don't agree with my church completely, and don't live up 100% to the rules and beliefs of the church, but to me, they aren't major issues, and if God shows me I am wrong, then with His help and grace, I can change on those issues.

We all need fences. And when we have them, let's be very careful about removing rails, or moving the fence itself. Only God can show us what can be detrimental, if not outright wrong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Icy Roads & A Night of Chinese

Friday evening, Vicki & Steve and the girls, and I were invited to the Goodenow's house, though Steve worked too late to make it. They were missionaries to Taiwan, so she has all kinds of Chinese recipes. She made a whopping 11 different dishes to serve. The only one I wasn't wild about was some kind of potatoes in curry sauce, but I had seconds on other stuff. The meal was delicious, and I got way too much to eat, and she put an entirely too large of a meal out, but we appreciated the effort. :-)

We ended the evening with a game of Beyond Balderdash, and dirt dessert. Thanks for a great evening!

It was starting to snow as we headed out to church last night, though they weren't calling for much. By the time we headed home, though not much snow had fallen, the roads had frozen and were very icy. Just within a couple of miles, we saw 5 cars in the ditch, and I think there were 2 accidents represented. We made it halfway up "Ski Slope Hill" and came to a stop. At first we thought there was an accident -there was a state cop ahead, and a long line of cars. I took a walk up to see what was going on, and found out it was just the roads. Some cars couldn't get up the hill. To add to the problem, 2 cars had tried to go past it all in the other lane, and couldn't make it, so everyone was waiting for a salt truck. Finally, one of the cars got out of the way, and we, and some other cars, managed to make it up the hill, and crept our way home. We found out later that they had shut down that section of road after we got on it. Thankfully, we made it home safe, though a 15-20 minute drive took us about an hour and 15 minutes.

Paul, Pam, and the boys drove in last night after church. Fortunately, they didn't hit bad roads til they got to Ohio, and arrived here around 11:25. This morning, Mom watched all 6 kids while Paul & Pam, and Vicki & I went to Austintown to shop for a bit. The kids got to play all day together, and still was grieved when the girls had to go home after supper. You'd think playing from 9 am til 5:30 pm would be enough, but I guess it wasn't.

Currently, we are watching the boys while Pam & Paul are in Salem making a CD. My brother-in-law is turning into another Bill Gaither - though he can sing better than Bill! - he wrote at least 7 of the songs they are putting on their CD, and already has the music tracks made to save some time & money. Tomorrow, they are going to record a few songs with the boys. That should be interesting. :-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Salesman of The Month

This is no joke, but is funny. Due to worries about Obama's stance on guns, sales have gone up on guns since he got in office. One gun store in Pittsburgh especially has had their sales skyrocket to the point that they put a picture of Obama in their window, and under it a sign saying "Salesman of The Month". :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day.......Singles, Celebrate!

Tomorrow is the day all single, non-dating people look forward to all year long. We start counting down on our calendars as soon as one passes........not really.

It can be a depressing day. The rest of the world is going out to eat with their significant other. Buying roses and candy, going away for a romantic getaway, and all sorts of lovely things people in love do.

Meanwhile, the single person goes around wanting to rip apart the hearts they see dangling everywhere, or have the urge to decorate with black, or so I hear. :-) My church used to take the whole Sunday closest to Valentine's Day to speak on marriage and ways to improve it, blah, blah, blah. The singles would sit there and count all the crosses in the sanctuary.......I actually did that once, even figuring how many there were on the hymnals......

It does seem the holiday is all for those who are in love, not for those who are not. So what do we who have no significant other do with the day? There are some options. We can boycott it. Call and complain to stores - why not - the atheists do it with Christmas! We can barricade ourselves in our home and cry our eyes out. We can just ignore the day and try to pretend it doesn't exist. Or...........we can make the best of the day.

I buy Valentines for the people in my life who are important to me. For the kids, this year it was Prince Caspian valentines, which came with tattoos! Of course I didn't give those to the kids, but if I show up at church with several tattoos, you will know where they came from! I also buy the kids candy and sometimes a small toy. This year, it was all candy. I bought cards for my siblings and their spouses, and for my parents.

Valentine's Day is all about love. Who says it has to be gushy romantic make-you-want-to-throw-up love? There are all kinds of love to celebrate on Valentine's Day, so get out of the gloomy doldrums and celebrate love!

1) God. The most important love to celebrate. You can't really send God a Valentine, but what better day to dwell on the love of God, what it means to you, and ways to show God you love Him?

2) Parents. Get them a card. Good grief, you don't have to spend a lot on cards - go to the Dollar Tree and buy them for 2/$1.00. Can't beat it! Buy them some candy too!

3) Siblings. Buy them a card too! Let them know you love them and they are important to you.

4) Nieces & nephews. They don't care what day it is, but will enjoy the candy you give them, and may even be impressed with a Valentine if you buy the right kind, which me, being a savvy uncle who is up on what the kids like, managed to do. :-)

5) Friends. They have some decent cards to buy for friends that aren't gushy or icky. I don't do gushy or icky cards for anyone - why buy something that says something I would never say in a million years?!

6) Grandparents. At least shoot them a card in the mail. They will appreciate it.

The world, and our holidays do seem geared for married people and/or people in love, but this Valentine's Day, seems geared more than all the rest for those in love, but it is time we singles fought back! Don't let the married people take all of the holidays! This Valentine's Day, let us who are not in love, celebrate love, the many kinds of love that we do have. Who needs the gushy romantic stuff anyway?!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Render a Verdict

I thought this was cool, so I am passing it on. I read books by Randy Singer, a lawyer turned Christian legal fiction author. For his upcoming book, he has a fictional case about a gun manufacturer being sued. You can watch a 5 minute video about this fictional case, then render your verdict in favor of the gun manufacturer, or the people suing them. Whatever decision is rendered on his website, is the decision that will be rendered in the book. Even if you don't read his books, it is an opportunity to help decide the outcome of a book:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Science Fair

This evening was the Science Fair at our academy. I think it is neat that they do it, and it gives the kids a chance to experiment in different areas.

My oldest niece did one on baking soda, Allie did cereal, and Katie did milk. Katie & Allie's class had food to sample - each display was a breakfast food, and each one had samples of that food - bacon, sausage, pancakes & syrup, etc.

Katie did milk, and had small cups of milk for people to drink. Allie did cereal, and had that sweet snack food made from chex cereal - garbage or dog food
Stephanie, and her baking soda display.

The pancakes & syrup display.

And the orange juice display.

There were other cool displays also. The first graders did different animals and talked about them, one high school class had different experiments they did such as freezing water, one girl did an experiment with a mouse and what was best to trap one with. I guess there was a real mouse in the display at one point. Not sure where it was when I was looking at the display. :-)

All in all, it was an interesting evening. I don't think my nieces walked away with a prize, but it was nice for the kids to be involved in something like that anyway.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

While I Wait

I know, I have already talked about this song, but it has really caught my attention. I mainly listen to Southern Gospel, but do like some CCM (Christian Contemporary) and Praise & Worship occasionally, and this song falls into the CCM category. I find myself listening to the song and/or watching the music video over and over, and weird as it may sound, I find myself fighting tears every time.

John Waller, author and singer of the song "While I'm Waiting" gives his reason for writing the song: "The explanation for this song is simple, I was waiting on God and I was hurting when I wrote the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t have written a song if my friend, Mike, hadn’t encouraged me to document what I was going through during that time. I’m sure there are few people who can’t relate to this song, but the important thing to remember while we’re waiting on God is to not just wait but to actively wait. Serve, worship and be faithful with what you have, where you are… “even while (you) wait.”

I think he has nailed it. I imagine there are many people who can relate to the song. I sure can. I hate to wait. I am probably one of the most impatient people on the earth. If I am hungry, I want to eat now. If there is a new book out by my favorite author, I want to read it now, and in one sitting. And if I need help from God, I want it now. I don't want to just have faith that He will do it.........someday. I want results now.

When we pray and want answers, God doesn't always say "yes". Sometimes, the answer is "no", and sometimes, a "wait" can be worse than "no". The single young girl/woman prays desperately that God will send someone into her life that she can love and marry, but no one comes, so she waits. The cancer-ridden patient, and their family, prays for healing, and it doesn't happen, so they wait. A nation prays that the most liberal pro-abortion candidate ever, will not win the presidency, but he does, and so we wait.

Thing is, there are no rest stops in the Christian life. God doesn't always act as fast as we want Him to. He doesn't always deliver when we expect Him, nor how. He doesn't always provide when we think we need Him to the worst, but we can't sit back and wait. If we do, we become useless to Him, and an easy target for the devil. That is where faith comes in. As Job said "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him".

We can go for long periods of time where it seems God doesn't care, yet, as the song says, we have to keep running the race, keep trusting Him. There is a part of the music video that gives me chills pretty much every time I watch it. A fireman is climbing the tall ladder of the ladder truck. As he climbs, the song is at this point: "I will move ahead, bold and confident, Taking every step in obedience". As he nears the top, the cameras angle to show the top of the ladder, and it is just reaching into the sky. There is nothing to climb to, except the end of the ladder.

The idea I get, and I assume it is no accident, is that is how our walk with God must be. One of faith. At times, it may seem we are climbing a tall ladder that drops off into space, yet we are to trust Him, and keep on climbing, having faith that when we get to the top of the ladder, there will be another, or He will catch us.

Anymore, my life feels like I am living in a snow globe that someone has furiously shaken. I have prayed for help in my finances, job, and other areas of my life, and nothing improves. I know I have pulled back in my relationship with God, and have pretty much had the attitude that if He does that, answers that prayer, then I will trust Him, and have faith. And then, I will work on my relationship with Him, and start climbing that ladder again.

Unfortunately, God doesn't work that way. God asks you to keep climbing the ladder, even though it seems to end in mid-air, or jump off the cliff without showing the safety net that is below.

God says they that wait on the Lord will renew their strength, but His idea of waiting, and ours is totally different. With His, we do have to keep running the race, living the Christian life day by day, even though all hell seems bent on sidetracking us.

I am sure every Christian has something they are waiting for God to do. I do. You do. Yet we cannot pause a moment while running this race. The prize is out there someday, and the track we are running on may not aways be smooth and level. All too often, it can be a lonely, rough, and uphill run, yet we can't give up, we can't stop and sip lemonade in the shade. We can, and should, pray daily for God to answer those prayers, to provide for the needs we and others have, but while we wait for Him to act, we must keep running, worshiping, trusting. And if He asks us to climb that ladder, we must climb. Faith isn't easy. If it were, if we could see the end result, it wouldn't be faith.

While I’m waitingI will serve You

While I’m waitingI will worship

While I’m waitingI will not faint

I’ll be running the race

Even while I wait

Sunday, February 1, 2009


This blog may shock some people who know me well. Some may even view me as hypocritical. That's ok. I can't live my life to please other people, and have tried to do that too much of my life.

So what did I do? I watched a DVD. Not just a DVD, a movie on DVD. I went through a period in my life that I was rather outspoken about viewing DVDs. We should be careful of things like that. I had a couple of things happen that made me doubt if I was right. Actually, if I was right about anything. I won't go into details here, but because of these incidents, I made the decision to not speak anymore in church, or be involved anymore than necessary in being up front. I don't make it a habit to watch DVDs very often, but will view some now. The only ones I possess are a handful of Christian titles. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Nativity, and the like. And now, Fireproof.

I really didn't have much intention to watch it, but a few friends saw it and raved about it and told me I just had to see it, so I got a really good deal on it, and purchased it. I honestly didn't see what I would get from it. The story about a firefighter who is fighting to save everything but his marriage. What could a single guy get out of that?

God can use anything, even a movie, and He used it to hit me right between the eyes. Caleb & Katherine Holt have been married for 7 years, and their marriage is going down the drain. He blames her for everything that is wrong in their marriage, and she blames him. He finally blows up and mentions divorce, and she decides that is what she wants.

Caleb's dad, a Christian, convinces him to fight for his marriage, using a 40-day guide to saving your marriage, called The Love Dare. He halfheartedly starts, only to be rebuffed on every side. Instead of getting the love and respect he figures he will get in return, his wife scorns his efforts, suspecting him of ulterior motives.

The part of the movie that really got to me, was a scene between Caleb and his father, when he was about halfway through the book. They are at a setting that had been a youth camp, but all that was left was a large wooden cross, and some tree stumps. Caleb goes on a rant, asking his dad if he has any idea what is like to go day after day doing all these things for his wife, giving her everything she would want, only to go unappreciated, getting no respect or love in return. It is a lengthy rant, and I can't repeat it word for word, but by the end of it, Caleb's father has wandered over to the cross, and as the rant ends, he looks up at the cross. Caleb, and the viewers get the message immediately. That's what we do to God. The scene ends with Caleb surrendering his life, and his marriage to God, and he sets out to save his marriage with his heart in it.

For months, it has seemed that my spiritual life has been on hold. I don't know where I am most days. God all too often feels miles away. I have trouble believing, having faith. I give God a list of things I want so I will believe. I have blamed Him for my unbelief and doubts. I overlook what He has done, and demand more. If He would bail me out of my financial problems, I'd have faith again, believe He cares. If He wiped that struggle away, I'd feel His love.

All too often our relationship with God is like a marriage, and all too often, we try to place all the blame on Him, and have a list of ways for Him to improve the relationship. I don't understand how God works. There have been times in my thinking at least, that had He showed me there was hope somehow, if He had someone step in and help me, I surely wouldn't have caved. I would read how God would act in people's lives when it seemed they were about to fall, and they would be saved. Yet it seemed so often, I would fall, and He did nothing to stop me.

God isn't a person, with faults & failures, but just as in the movie I watched, as Caleb relentlessly pursued winning his wife back, and got nothing but scorn, so we must do with God. He has His reasons for seeming aloof and far away, but in spite of it all, we must keep doing our part of the relationship. I have been all too guilty of giving up on God when He hasn't acted in ways that I thought He should. In any relationship, you have to trust the other person, even when they don't act like you want them to. Obviously, the marriage analogy isn't perfect, for God is perfect, and isn't going to walk away from someone who is serving Him. We walk away from Him.

Another powerful part of the movie is a segment where there is no talking from the actors, but a song is played. As the song plays, they show scenes involving the couple, mainly Caleb. The song is called "While I'm Waiting". It talks about waiting on God, but while we wait, we must keep worshiping Him, keep serving, keep running the race. Sometimes we go through rough times in life, but we can't sit by the wayside and wait for God to rescue us, to heal us, to make everything ok in our life. While we wait, we have to keep serving Him.

I am not a very eloquent person, and have probably done a lousy job of getting some of my thoughts on here, but I feel this is a life-changing movie. Yes, it is good for a married couple to watch, no matter the condition of their marriage, but the message of the movie isn't just that marriage is sacred, and should be fought for, but that serving God is the most important thing we can do, and deserves all the effort we have and more to keep it up.

One issue covered in the movie, and handled very tastefully, is the issue of pornography. Caleb has quite the addiction to it, with his wife's knowledge. There comes a point in the movie, where things seem to be going nowhere with his wife, and he is on his computer, a little window pops up, with a girl on it - nothing improper about her look - saying "click here to see me". He has given his life to God at this point, and the battle rages. I won't give anything away, but the issue is handled in a very tasteful and even amusing way.

I was again reminded that all too often in my life, I have expected God to help me and show that He really does love me, and all the while, I was doing things I knew were displeasing to Him. I wanted Him to do something for me first, and then, and only then, I would do something for Him in return. The movie has brought the fact home to me that I need to take my spiritual life off of "pause", and pretty much do my own "Love Dare". I need to sort of view God as in the injured party in a bad marriage. I don't know if God has hurt feelings, but He has had to me rant and ask "why" too much in my life. There are things I deal with that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. Are they my fault? I honestly don't believe so, yet my actions and misdeeds have made it worse than it would have been if I had trusted God all along, and not questioned "why?" or tried to place the blame on Him.

God may never heal the broken parts of me. I may battle certain issues until my dying day. I may forever have a struggle to believe that He really does love me. I may wait forever for some things to happen that I have so desperately prayed and hoped for. But whether they happen or not, "While I wait" - I have to keep running the race. Keep on serving Him, worshiping Him. That is the only way to fireproof my life.

(And a ps in closing, I still advocate being very careful in viewing DVD. This one had no language or sexual situations. In fact, Kirk Cameron, the actor who played Caleb, will not kiss another woman, even in a movie, so his real wife stood in on the scene that they wanted a kiss. That is integrity.)

While I'm Waiting (John Waller)

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord