Monday, March 30, 2009

History Repeats Itself

Ran across something interesting, and a little scary, on Brock & Bodie Thoene's blog. Since the say to pass it on, I decided to paste it here:

Bodie and Brock Thoene

Dear Thoene Friend,
Scripture tells us, “Woe to those who call good ‘evil,’ and who call evil, ‘good.’”

Those of you who have read The Zion Covenant have already seen and recognized in our own time that the history of tyranny is indeed repeating itself.

Over the course of 25 years we have researched and written about the destruction of the German Republic and its constitution….THROUGH LEGISLATION!

You asked us for specifics. Is there any historical precedent for the present Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress giving massive bailout loans to banks and to industry?

Back to that question in a moment.

This week the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Geitner, demanded from Congress that he be given the PERSONAL power to regulate and nationalize U.S. banks and all financial institutions. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury also wants to have the power to decide what is a “good” business and which businesses should be taken over by the government!

President Obama agrees with this! Obama believes Geitner, the tax evader, should have this power over U.S. business!
At Obama’s demand Geitner’s power would include the authority to shut down U.S. companies at a whim! Do you own a small business? Mr. Geitner would be able to shut you down!

The magnitude of the Obama Administration’s tyrannical power-grab has never before been witnessed in American history.

Review this example:
Obama forces Wagoner out as GM CEO; 31-year career is over

President Barack Obama's rescue plan for Detroit automakers will be unveiled Monday, but one condition became clear today: the resignation of General Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner.

As a condition for additional government aid to GM, the Obama administration asked Wagoner to step aside, which Wagoner agreed to do today, people familiar with the plan said. Wagoner’s move, effective immediately, ends a 31-year career with GM.

Not since President Franklin Roosevelt considered taking control of Ford Motor Co. in 1943 from a failing Henry Ford has the federal government pushed for such sway in the management of Detroit’s automakers. (emphasis added)

The tack suggests a hard-nosed approach from the Obama administration toward the automakers, bondholders and the UAW, all of whom have yet to reach agreements on key concessions, despite months of talks.

Obama will unveil the new rescue plan for GM and Chrysler in a White House ceremony this morning.

And there you have it. The President of the United States is now DICTATING who will run General Motors. Obama is saying there will be NO Government FINANCIAL HELP FOR General Motors UNLESS they dump the CEO! Obama has the power to destroy the 31-year-career of a man who ran a great American company while the corrupt U.S. Congress ran the business of America into the ground.

We will say this plainly: Barak Hussein Obama has, in nine weeks, proven to us that he is a tyrant. He is now assuming dictatorial powers over our lives and businesses which NO PRESIDENT has EVER assumed in the history of our nation. BY new LAWS enacted by a Democrat Congress, Obama, son of a Kenyan Muslim, is now ignoring WE THE PEOPLE and taking over every corner of our lives. Our Constitutional rights are in shambles.

Has anything like this ever happened in another country? If so, what was the result?

We searched our historical news files and found this headline from Germany in 1935….

February 22, 1935, Friday
Page 11, 598 words

HITLER AUTHORIZES HUGE FORCED LOAN; Gives Finance Minister Wide Power to Raise Up to Billion Marks to Provide Jobs.

BERLIN, Feb. 21. -- Reichsfuehrer Adolf Hitler empowered the Finance Minister, in a decree passed by the Cabinet today, to float a new loan of between 750,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 marks. [The mark was quoted here yesterday at 40.28 cents.]

It isn’t really necessary to spell out the conclusion of the comparison is it?

To sum up:
Do not be silent. You must not remain silent. Tyranny threatens your American Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin would not believe what these Democrat-agogues are doing to Freedom today!

Stand and be heard, Americans! Your nation and the world are in peril!

Blessings in The Mighty Name of Jesus!

Bodie and Brock

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Worst of Sinners

I received quite the lovely comment on my last post. My blog is set up not to take anonymous requests, but some brave soul went to the bother to create a user name called "anonymous" - I assume just to comment on my blog. Here it is:

"quite frankly, after reading some of your comments here, and seeing some of your posts on facebook - I'm quite happy that we aren't in the same family. You are the last person I would ever look for help from.
Your words speak of judgement and hate, rather than helpfulness and love.
I'll be surprised if you allow this comment. I'm sure it will also cause you to wrap your self-righteous robes around yourself, and consider yourself blessed for being "persecuted".
Maybe its something you ought to consider though."

I don't want to add fuel to the fire by commenting about anonymous comments, but I do have a few things to say in reply.

First off, I cannot think of anything hateful that I have said. I admit I am too outspoken, and I have said what I think of the people who were suing my denomination and causing trouble - and I would say it again - that may be what this person refers to. I was pretty hard on homeschooling for awhile, but am not as anti-homeschooling as I was - I still think a Christian school is the better option, but not everyone can do that, or has good reasons not to, and I am entitled to my opinion, as my friends - and enemies :-) - who homeschool are entitled to their opinion. :-)

Let's see.....I have been pretty outspoken about liberals and Obama, so that could be it too.

I think that about covers it. I am not pulling my self-righteous robes around me, nor do I feel "persecuted". I feel I am the worst of sinners, and have been pretty honest about some of my struggles to feel loved and accepted by God on here. If I have somehow given the impression that I think I am a super-Christian, I apologize. I would think any regular reader of my blog would know I do not feel that way.

Thanks to the people who read my blog and leave encouraging notes. Some I know well, some I don't know, such as Craig & Heather, who seem like the kind of people that I wish I knew.

I am just a sinner saved by grace, who has been a failure more often than not as I journey to Heaven. Again, if I have been hateful and judgemental, I apologize.

Family, or Strangers?

We have sung it for years: "You will notice we say brother and sister 'round here. It's because wer'e a family, and these folks are so dear. When has a heartache, we all shed a tear......." But do we really mean it?

John Trent & Gary Smalley related a story in their great book, "The Blessing". A Christian woman had a non-believing husband. He spent most of his spare time at the local bar until the day he finally became a Christian. Sadly, he didn't last. He missed the companionship of his fellow drinkers, and no one made a move to befriend him at the church.

A friend of mine was complaining to me about people on facebook, and people in general. He pointed out that if you post something dumb/funny on your facebook, you get tons of comments. But post you are having a rough time, or post a prayer request, and you're lucky if you get one or two comments.

I don't know if we are too busy, or what all the reasons are, but it seems that in too many churches, regardless of the size, we really aren't a family. We don't really bear each other's burdens. If someone testifies and comments they are discouraged, how many of us pray for that person, and even better, tell them we are praying for them?

I believe we are too self-absorbed in today's world. We go to church and worship and leave without making contact with many people outside of our little clique. We don't make visitors welcome. We don't really care how the people are doing outside of the clique we are in. Down deep, most of us only want people there who conform to what we want.

The church should be somewhat of a hospital. A place where people can come for help, but I' afraid that the worst among us wouldn't feel comfortable in most of our churches. You should act and look a certain way to be there, and you certainly should only have "nice" sins. None of that really bad stuff.

I came across something that echoed some of my thoughts. The article is about Ted Haggard - the minister who was caught up in acts of homosexuality. A man named Alan Chambers wrote an article on
" What Ted Haggard Can Still Teach The Church" . There was a paragraph that holds oh so much truth:

"The truth is that most Christians struggle with a particular sin in their lives. It might be an uncontrolled temper. Maybe it's substance abuse or even a secret grudge harbored toward someone. Or maybe, like Ted Haggard and me, it's a struggle with lust and sexual brokenness. While there is freedom through the power of Christ, the sad truth remains that there is still something terribly wrong in many of our congregations, something that all of the marriage protection laws and constitutional amendments cannot fix. Many of our churches are not safe places for us to be vulnerable and seek help and so many continue to suffer in silence. The choice of committing sin and disobeying God has always been our personal responsibility, but we in the church desperately need each other. And yet, in many churches, people are still donning masks and ignoring the very hurts and struggles that God instructs us to be open about. If we are to make any progress in reaching a hurting world, our churches need to be a place of healing and accountability. This starts by every one of us, including our leadership admitting to our struggles and asking fellow Christians for help."

Part of the problem may be that we have set the standard so high that we leave no room for people who are struggling. Even the word "struggling" brings judgemental looks and thoughts. I almost get the idea that most Christians I know believe you come to Christ, become a Christian, and then get "sanctified" - a term my church uses that pretty much means total surrender - and then you shouldn't have any "struggle". Meanwhile, there is a world of hurting people in our churches afraid to confess their struggles & battles. They fear condemnation, judgement, even being ostracized in some cases. The best case scenario, they will be told they just need to "pray more".

I could be wrong, but I feel if the church was truly like the song Jesus wants the church to be, that no matter what issue a Christian brother or sister struggles with, they could let it be known and be met with love, concern, prayer.

A while back, some things were said that just crushed me. The people who said them had no idea how badly they hurt me, and maybe they wouldn't care, but if it were their family member, I hope they would have had a different attitude, yet is it any less wrong to treat fellow Christian brothers & sisters in ways that hurt, than we would our blood family?

I need to choose my words carefully here, but there are issues that I struggle with that a handful of people in my church - and out of the church know. I have been back close to a year now from living in Indiana for 2 years, and not one of those people have pulled me aside and asked how I am doing. Part of me knows I cannot depend on others, and whether I walk this journey completely alone, or have tons of help, it is ultimately up to me whether I stay on the right path - not others. Yet, I have to wonder, if it was their biological brother or sister, would they do differently?

We all need each other. I have been to a couple of places lately to eat and play games, and really enjoyed myself. Back in the days of the early church, they lived with each other, took care of each other. We need more of that - and no, I am not seeking invites - we all, myself included, need to reach out more not to just the visitors and sinners who come through our church doors, but to the ones who are there every service.

We shouldn't just pray for our loved ones, but for those we attend church with, and their loved ones. If someone is going through a rough time, we should help in any way we can, even if it is by encouraging words and prayer.

We need to love each other, and somehow make the church a place where our hurting brothers and sisters can step up, admit their need, and receive help, not judgement.

Family Of God (Bill & Gloria Gaither)

You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here,
It's because we're a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God

From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I'm not worthy to be here, but PRAISE GOD! I belong!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Going Through The Motions

Came on another one of those songs that make you think.....

The Motions (Matthew West)

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life
'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

Monday, March 9, 2009


Ran onto this article written by Melissa Brady, wife of Jim Brady of the Booth Brothers. Thought it was worth sharing:

"Television, music, movies, magazines and the Internet are continually bombarding us with glamorized immorality. Where there used to be boundaries, there are none and what was once uncommon, is now “the norm” on the social scene. Romance is portrayed as physical attraction only and it seems those involved in physical relationships are getting younger every day.

Jim and I often have young people come to us for advice. Sometimes about music, sometimes to ask what kind of movies they should watch and many times, how they should handle themselves with the opposite sex. Knowing, of course, that their parents have probably already given them the answers to these questions, we encourage them to make decisions as their parents would have them do. In addition, we encourage them to set boundaries for themselves.

We live in a “boundary-less” society and having someone advise you to set boundaries may sound foreign to you. But, as the old saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!”

A friend of mine had set boundaries for herself as far as what she would do with her boyfriend. Then they got engaged, and because they were planning to get married, she thought it would be OK to cross some of those boundaries, tearing down her own walls of conviction. After crossing those boundaries, she and her fiance broke up and she found herself unable to take back what she had done. Not keeping that promise to herself was something she would take into her next relationship and eventually into her marriage.

Society doesn’t tell you stories like that of my friend. The consequences of romance without boundaries are hidden. The shiny, outside exterior of “fun” is just a costume that hides teen pregnancy, disease and emotional heartache.

I encourage you all, married and single alike, to set boundaries for yourselves. Put blocks on your Internet access. When something questionable comes on the TV, turn the channel.

Set goals for yourself and don’t put yourself in a vulnerable situation. Most importantly, surround yourself with godly friends who will encourage you in your endeavors. My dad used to quote Psalms 1 to me and remind me that if I didn’t run with “the ungodly”, I wouldn’t get into their trouble. I HATE getting into trouble, so I’ve always thought that was a pretty good philosophy to live by.

If you’ve already crossed boundaries you never intended to cross, you can begin again. We are NOT slaves to our culture. We are NOT hopeless. And we were NOT created to live in defeat. As Romans 8:37 tells us, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us!

Living a godly life is a minute by minute journey with many obstacles along the way, but we have the power to prevail. We ARE more than conquerors, and although society tells us purity is impossible, remember, with God ALL things are possible!"

Wikipedia Guilty of Partisanship and Censorship

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia where users can add information, as long as they back it up with facts. The exception is the page for Barrack Obama. References to doubts about his citizenship, his relationship to Wright & Ayars, and things like that, are removed, and the poster is banned for 3 days. It should be no surprise that the page for President George W Bush is the opposite - people can post all the critical stuff about him they want.

Story here:

Slow Fade

Most of the music I listen to falls into the Southern/Gospel Country style, but ran onto this CCM song recently, and the words pack a punch. The song could apply to any area of life. I am putting the lyrics here, and the video below it - if you like CCM, give a listen.

Slow Fade (Casting Crowns)

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what you see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I Should Have Been Amish

Warning - this post went pretty long, so if you read it, get a cup of coffee and prop your feet up.......

The guys I went to see in concert last night are Mennonite, though not conservative traditional Mennonites. They talked about their grandpa, who was born into a horse & buggy Amish family, and as all to many Amish do, lived his life focusing only on the outward, believing that you couldn't know for sure that you were going to Heaven, and feeling like you could never be good enough.

I firmly believe I am in the right church, and though I don't agree 100% with everything that my church teaches, I agree with enough that I am not going to go elsewhere, but I feel there is something missing in our churches - and I am speaking of holiness churches like I attend. God's love. Sure, we mention it, we teach it, but do we do it enough?

The Bible verse that seems to be at the very center of the Gospel message is John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life". If God Himself has made love the central part of His message, why don't we?

Maybe it is just me, but I really can't remember many messages on God's love growing up. I remember many camp meetings and revival meetings where I heard a lot about God's judgement and wrath. It seemed the preachers tried to pull out every story to tell of people who died without God to scare people to the altar. I know it takes more than that to mess people up, but I think that is one thing that has caused me spiritual problems in my life. All too often, I went to the altar because I was scared into it, or the preacher kept holding the altar call open until a lot of people went.

Looking back, most of my Christian experience has been serving God out of fear. I didn't - and still don't - want to go to Hell, so I would go to the altar. I fought constantly with the idea that I could never measure up to God, and lived with the idea that He was just waiting for the opportunity to strike my name from the list of redeemed.

Dealing with the issues I deal with hasn't helped. The people I have been around and go to church with don't have big sins - if they do, no one talks about them. I'd hear preachers say you should pray aloud at the altar - don't hang over the altar and mumble into your arm - and things like that. Even as a teenager, I thought "you gotta be kidding! There is no way I am going to let people hear this stuff!" I came to a point where I quit going to the altar - not because I am too proud, but waited to pray in private where I could talk aloud to God.

There are churches who like to quote that we are not under law, but under grace, and act like they have a license to do whatever they want to do. God loves them, and they are going to Heaven no matter what they do, or how they act. Yet, it is just as wrong to portray God as a stern God who has a whip just waiting for us to mess up - and maybe the churches I have attended haven't meant to give that impression - when a guy like me has self esteem issues, grew up thinking no one liked him - including God - it is possible I only heard the hell & brimstone stuff, though I do think there was a lot more of that than messages of God's love.

I turn 40 in May. I have to admit I have never spiritually matured, and have been down just as much as I have been up. I have tried to live to please my family, and tried to serve God because it was the right thing to do, and I didn't want to go to Hell. Like the Amish, I still feel like I can never measure up to what God expects of me, much less what my family and people I know expect from me. I feel like a failure in so many respects. I know I should be a mature Christian by now, yet still doubt God's love, and wonder if it is possible for me to ever serve God out of love instead of fear. I feel Christians should be careful in dress and activities, yet wonder if I have focused so much on that, and not enough on establishing a true relationship with God.

Part of me knows that God never gives up on us, no matter how far we go, no matter how awful the sin. That He loves us no matter what, and nothing can separate us from His love - yet when it comes to believing that about me, I can't. I wonder if I went to far, fell too many times - surely I can never be anything worthwhile in God's eyes. Like the prodigal son, I feel like I should be like the servants, and God could never make anything useful out of me.

I will hear songs or read books that will light a small spark of hope and belief that God does care, but then the reality of life smacks me in the face and I sink back to my mediocre spiritual existence.

Surrender. It isn't something we hear much about. It isn't an easy thing to do, but I know it is something I have never truly done. Oh, I thought I did. I sang the song "I'll go where you want me to go, be what you want me to be, say what you want me to say" - and thought I meant it, yet I realize surrender is more than just giving God our worldly possessions and our talents - we have to give Him our doubts, fears, and struggles, but I, and many others, I'm sure, tend to hold onto them too tightly. The devil helps of course. It seems he knows our weaknesses more than we do, and magnifies them, raising as many doubts about God as possible.

God doesn't always act in ways that we expect and want. Sometimes it seems He doesn't act at all. Surrendering all to Him has to take that in. Part of me feels like to do that, I have to become a robot - just march blindly along, no matter how rough life gets, no matter if it seems God is forsaking us, yet I am realizing more and more how good the devil is at his job. He doesn't care how we fall. He doesn't care if we have just been dealt a hard blow in one area, he will attack us in another and not give us a break. My best friend has told me I listen to the devil too much - oh not that he is telling me to go rob a bank - though that would help my finances out a lot! - just kidding - no, he hammers it home over and over that God doesn't care, doesn't love me. If He did, then wouldn't He do that? Help me in that area? That no one truly likes me, even God, and that if people knew the worst about me, no one would be my friend.

Why is it so easy to have faith in what the devil says, and yet not in what God and His Word says? In my own life, I can see a few reasons. I believe the self esteem issue has a lot to do with it. It is one weakness I have that the devil uses. My view of God has a lot to do with it. Instead of viewing Him as a loving God, I view Him as a stern taskmaster, and also tend to put God in a box, which doesn't work. When He doesn't perform or act as I expect, then it reinforces my warped view of Him. Being up and down spiritually has not helped. Thinking God surely wouldn't forgive me again.

I find myself wishing I could start over. Go back before I became so cynical and jaded about life and God, but we can't live our lives over - all we can do is set a spiritual marker and work to be different. God doesn't give up on us - we give up on Him, and that is what I have done. I threw out the idea that God loves me and that I can ever be a success in any area, especially spiritually.

High Valley, the group I went to hear last night, opened with a song that I didn't particularly like at first, but it has grown on me, and as I have listened to it lately, it has helped drive home the point of what I need to do. The song says if you wish you were someone else, if you are tired of fighting battles with yourself, then change your mind. Once I really listened to the words, I got it. The Bible talks about our mind being renewed, and that's what I need to do - change my mind. Quit dwelling on how rough life is, how unfair it is that I have this issue or that issue to deal with. It is really a big undertaking, to change one's mind. To actually trust God after a lifetime of not ever really reaching that point. To somehow believe that God truly does love me - I really don't know how to reach that point. I have prayed about it, and seemingly God didn't help.

I do know I can't live the rest of my life serving God out of fear and to escape a fiery eternity, and that to ever reach true spiritual maturity, I have to go beyond the doubts and believe that He is all that He says that He is, and I am not the exception. A tall order, and a lifetime of doubt and fear will be hard to overcome, but if God truly can do the impossible, then surely He can help me.

Change Your Mind (High Valley)

Hey, Hey
Did you ever think
There might be another way
To just feel better,
Just feel better about today

Oh no-
If you never want to have
To turn and go away
You might feel better,
Might feel better if you stay

Yeah yeah
I bet you haven't heard
A word I've said
Yeah yeah
If you've had enough
Of all your tryin'
Just give up
The state of mind you're in:

If you want to be somebody else,
If you're tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind...

Hey hey-
Have you ever danced in the rain
Or thanked the sun
Just for shining- just for shining
Or the sea?

Oh no- take it all in
The world's a show
And yeah, you look much better,
Look much better when you glow

Yeah yeah
bet you haven't heard
A word I've said
Yeah yeah

If you've had enough
Of all your tryin'
Just give up
The state of mind you're in:

If you want to be somebody else,
If you're tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind...

Hey hey- what ya say
We both go and seize the day
'cause what's your hurry
what's your hurry anyway

Yeah yeah
I bet you haven't heard
A word I've said
Yeah yeah
If you've had enough
Of all your tryin'
Just give up
The state of mind you're in:

If you want to be somebody else,
If you're tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind...

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Evening Out

Several months ago, I ran across a trio of brothers from Canada who sing Christian music with a country sound, which is right up my alley. I finally found their CD for a good price and have enjoyed it many times since. They are now working on a new CD and have been posting a new song from it weekly on their website. They have been in the northeastern part of Ohio a few times, but I always found out after the fact. I was looking at their schedule recently and saw they were coming to the area this week-end, so I map quested the locations and found that one of them, Mt Eaton, was 56 miles away, an hour and fifteen minutes. I debated about going, as I had no one to go with, and don't like doing stuff like that alone, but decided to go.

The location is called The Pier Lighthouse - not sure if it is a church, or what it is. Chairs were set up in the gym around a stage in rows of 8. I nailed a back seat in the middle section on the end and tried not to stick out. I ended up with 2 Mennonite women sitting next to me with an empty chair between us. The one, in her 50's, was somewhat friendly. The other in at least her late 60's was not. They spend most of the concert staring to my right, which made me want to look, but I never did see what was of interest - the tables of music product and a table of baked goods and other food was over there.....maybe they were hungry! Anyway, it was a bit unnerving to have them staring past me. :-)

I shouldn't be surprised that I would up sitting by Mennonites -most of the crowd consisted of Mennonites and even Amish. There was quite a variety. Men with no zippers, boys with bowl haircuts, women with black doily coverings, white doily coverings, coverings that were large enough to house missionaries on furlough.......

First up was a man named David Miller who with another guy sang several bluegrass style songs, most familiar such as Life's Railway To Heaven. They both played guitars of some sort and were accompanies by an older gentlemen on a guitar, and 2 teenage brothers on banjo and mandolin. The mandolin player was really good, and I wouldn't guess him to be over 14 or 15. In spite of the fact that I wanted to hear the other group, I did enjoy them.

After about 30-35 minutes, they put the guys up I went to hear: High Valley, consisting of the 3 Rempel Brothers: Brad - 24, Bryan - 21, and Curtis - 18. Brad played a guitar- the big kind - whatever they are called - Bryan played a bass guitar, and Curtis played a mandolin. They used no sound tracks or any other instrumentation, and though they do on their CDs, they still sounded great.

They are a Mennonite family, though not the dress-wearing, covering-wearing kind. Their grandpa was born into a horse and buggie family.

They mostly sang Christian songs, but also did a few I would classify as country - such as "On The Combine", a song talking about a boy growing up on the combine and what life is like on the farm - songs that don't mention God, but are cool songs about every day life. I was bummed out that they couldn't sing my favorite song - one that is on their new CD - they don't know it well enough to sing it in public yet. I may blog about the song one of these days - "Somebody Like Me".

In spite of the fact that I was solo in the midst of families and couples, I had fun and felt ministered to also, and am glad I went. The concert ended around 9, and after a brief restroom stop and to pick up a snack, I headed home and got here at 10:30.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What would you believe?

I actually had someone from church ask me what was wrong with me since I haven't blogged lately. There are a couple of reasons, but I won't go into that. Besides, I did blog about Swagbucks - so check that out!

I was invited out a couple of weeks ago for games & pizza to the house of a couple I would have said were acquaintances. I knew them through my sister, and through the website I call (actual name has a "my" where the "their" is) - and to see them out while shopping. I was a bit nervous as I had never been around them other than what I mentioned, and I found out that they were nervous as they thought I might be shy - an idea that has them snorting now. :-) I had a great evening visiting with them and their kids. We played games, and had some interesting conversation. I really enjoyed the evening, and hope this doesn't sound corny, but had to think of Anne of Green Gables and her "kindred spirits" idea. That's what is neat - when you are around someone you may not know very well - or at all - but you have similar ideals and beliefs and can chat about stuff, and not always agree 100%, but still have great conversation.

Anyway, long intro to the idea I wanted to present, and have been thinking about since then. I asked them a question that I have thought about. It is a hypothetical question, but one that makes me think: had I - or you - been raised non-Christian, knew nothing about Christianity, the Bible, what is right or wrong, lived no where close to any kind of church or Christian, yet became a Christian from reading the Bible - what would we believe? If we had to depend on God and His Word - and nothing else - what would our belief system be? How would we dress? Would we believe once saved always saved, or would we believe you can lose your salvation?

We are all a product of how we were raised, and what church we grew up in or was saved in. My church believes and teaches, based on Scripture - that a woman should not wear pants, as they were made for man, and was a man's garment. People not raised in my type of church were raised to believe that the Scripture in question is either Old Testament and doesn't apply, or that pants made for women are women's clothes and that the Scripture doesn't apply to that.

We are all guilty of just blindly following what our church teaches and what we were raised to believe, and on both sides of the fence - whether a "strict" church, or "liberal", we never take the time to ask God what He wants.

The last major blog post I did, I talked about fences, and yes they are important, and since we humans like to go the path of least resistance, I am afraid we need guidelines/fences, but when people start going beyond those fences, what do we do? I will be one of the first to admit that everything my church - and similar churches - teach, are not Heaven & Hell issues, and that you could safely "remove a fence railing" and not suffer spiritually. Yet I look at Christians I have worked with and been around who attended churches that hold not outward dress standard, etc, and wonder how on earth they can do the things that they do and call themselves Christians. I have seen Christians from that side of the more liberal realm lie, rip off people, swear, lust, though married, and it is hard for me to give credence to their Christianity.

I have seen the kind of movies and shows Christians watch, and wonder if we are that wrong for taking a stand against TV. I have waited on women at the Christian bookstore whose breasts were practically hanging out of their blouse, and wonder what their idea of modesty is.

I honestly believe that everyone's belief system would be different if we had to totally rely on God and the Bible for what we believe. Many of us would be stricter in our outward dress and the activities we do. Many of us would probably loosen up a bit.

I think it boils down to how much we truly love God, and how much we really want to please Him and live for Him in every area of our life. If we had that mindset and only knew what the Bible said, would we be running around in a bikini - if a woman - or shirtless - if a man? Or would we truly seek God on what His idea of modesty is.

There are people who don't remotely believe as I do, and I have total confidence in them. There are people who believe as I do, or even stricter, and I don't have an ounce of confidence in them, so standards and outward appearance doesn't make you a Christian - though I firmly believe there should be a marked difference in Christians and non-Christians. We are too easily influenced by culture and our peers.

Ever notice that anyone driving slower than you is a jerk or moron, and anyone driving faster than you is an idiot? I fear that mentality seeps into the religious world. Anyone more liberal than us just can't be a Christian, and anyone more strict than us is just going too far. Why do we always think we are the only one who is right? The only one who has all the answers? I'm guilty of it, and if we were all honest, most of us are.

I may have mentioned it in my last post - that has been too long to remember - but I believe the answer is two-fold. First is seeking God's will for everything we believe - doctrine, theology, dress, activities, etc. The second is balance. You can go too far left or right. Where that balance is should be found by listening to God. There are people who believe that once you get light on something - you need to do it, but I have heard preachers preach some pretty radical ideas over the years, so obviously you can't depend solely on the preacher to give you your belief system.

There have been parents who believed some pretty radical stuff - on both sides of the fence - so you can't depend solely on your parents. So who can you depend on? Well, how about God? No there is a novel idea - doing what God wants to get to Heaven instead of what your church or family wants!

I am afraid that we- myself included - all too easily dismiss God's telling us to change things in our lives. God doesn't yell or hit on the side of the head - though maybe He should - He speaks in quiet whispers, but all too often we don't hear, or we dismiss it as just a random thought that popped into our head. Not watch that show - or any show? Nah, that can't be God telling me that. Not go there, wear that - no, that isn't God saying that.

We can have random ideas pop into our heads, and sometimes the devil can plant ideas in our heads. I enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys books when I was a kid and teenager. I can still remember feeling if I ever truly became a Christian, I would have to give the books up. Looking back, I really don't think it was God telling me that. Sure, something like that can get in the way if we value it more than God, but God also knew that the day wasn't far off that I would outgrow the books and they wouldn't be of interest to me.

We are too tunnel visioned. We know what is right and wrong for us and we march on looking neither to the right or left refusing to consider the idea that a certain area does need worked on and maybe we should cut that out of our life. Or that we do need to ease up a bit in that one area and not be so hard-nosed.

For we more conservatives, if there is anything in our life we are doing just because the church says to - that is legalism. We need to get it from God. And on the flip side, if you believe you can live like the world and not be different in any way - that can also be legalism. There are still rules.

It is a narrow way, this Christian walk, but just as some try to make it too broad, there are also those who try to make it even more narrow than God has made it.

I read a blog post by someone recently that doesn't quite say what I have said, but I think is a good way to end this. Keeping God absent, by Jarrod Jones, author of 13 Ways to Ruin Your Life, and The Backward Life. I will post it here, and hope he doesn't mind:

"I want more of God’s presence. But how? What do I need to do? Where do I need to go? How do I need to pray? On what Scriptures must I meditate? What books do I read? What worship band must I follow? What preacher do I follow? What conference must I attend? What Church must I join? What type music must I listen to? To what podcasts must I subscribe? How do I get more of God’s presence into my life?
My struggles. You?

I’m still learning that God does His own thing. The Psalmist put it this way, He “does whatever pleases Him.” This sets the terms of my relationship with God. He is not my personal assistant. He doesn’t grace me with His presence at my every beck and call. Though I wish He would. Faith would be easier then.

God intervenes when He wants to intervene. He moves when He wants to move. He provides on the timetable in which He wants to provide, according to His glory and for my greater good, not for my comfort and convenience.

I like C.S. Lewis’ approach. But he reveals the best way to assure God’s absence. “Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on [and TV, and Computer, and Ipod, and Iphone]. Live in a crowd Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or snobbish appeal.”
Touché. " (Jarrod Jones)