Friday, June 29, 2007

Blog Stats & Shameless Self Promotion

Well there wont be a lot of the shameless self promotion going on here, but I did get a chuckle out of something last night.

A few nights ago my friend and I were talking and IBS came up. That would be irritable bowel syndrome, for those of you that don't know. Well, she accidentally said RBS instead, and we both laughed - I commented "hey, that could be a t-shirt: Reformed Baptist Syndrome". To which we both laughed and said "yeah!". Well, if you read yesterday here at Reflections you know that I went ahead and created the graphic & there is now an RBS t-shirt available at my store - for those of you that suffer from RBS like me. :-)

So then last evening, a particular blogger that hasn't been too kind to me in the past, decided to link to the shirt (why he ever even knew it existed is beyond me) and make a snarky comment about it. Anyway I'm assuming it was snark-implied, as it reads "And what can one say about this? Truth is stranger than… " Maybe I read it all wrong and he's actually complimenting me? I'm not sure, but either way the link to the comment was sent to me in email, and I had to laugh.

If it was snark-implied, then it sorta backfired because said blogger's readers actually purchase from my store, as the site stats prove out. If it wasn't snark implied then I just owe the blogger a thank you for the kind words and re-directed traffic. I'm not sure which way to think about this but either way, it did make me smile.

site stats

The funny thing is, I'm a horrible self-promoter. If I were doing things right, the way all marketing guru-type people tell you to do things, my store's stats would look completely different than they do. But I'm a waffling wimp and usually feel sorta smarmy about "putting my store out there" in other ways except for links here, when I create a new design. I do have a few other ways that I advertise the store but they're extremely low key & really don't generate much traffic at all.

This graphic here shows what my store's traffic looked like over the last year. Generally the numbers rank fairly low for the month, but I'll let you guess which month a HUGELY read blogger linked in to my store. The yellow bars represent the basic site visits, and the orange represent the actual page visits. In March of this year my store had over 10,000 page visits - which simply never happens, never has happened, and probably never will happen again, unless by some fluke-o-rama another HUGELY read blogger or website links to the coolest Christian t-shirts on the planet (those would be mine, in case you were wondering where to get those).

Sometimes I wish I were better at marketing because I'd really love to see this store do well. Well enough that Kev could quit his miserable job and we could provide for the family on the store's revenue alone. That, would be awesome. It does happen too, there are quite a few success stories like that from online merchants, but they're the folks that work extremely hard at shameless self-promotion and get their products and links before the public in big ways. I don't even know how to do that, so if some HUGELY read big name blogger is reading this today, feel free to link in to the store and tell your readers to shop there. I wont mind a bit if you do that - and do it often, lol. You can even use the left sidebar graphic if you wanted to.

In fact, I do custom orders & custom designs, so if you'd like something special, feel free to get ahold of me and we can work out a cool design for you, your blog, or whatever you've got in mind. Put me to work so Kevin can quit his job!

Okay, end of shameless self-promotion, I have errands & laundry & packing to do as we prepare to get away for a weekend at the beach. Yay, we love the beach!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reflecting Award

"The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them."

That's how this award works. Kim at The Upward Call gave me this award and I must say I was touched by the nice things she said about me. I didn't even pay her or anything, to say any of them. I couldn't view the graphic that is supposed to go with this award, so I've included a shot of the sunset that painted the sky outside my window as I composed this.

Naming five bloggers that fit this criteria isn't as easy as it might seem at first. Say what you will about the vast amount of nonsense fluff-blogs (and there are plenty of them out there, we all know that) but there are also some dedicated, Godly people blogging their hearts out that really have a big influence on me. Some for many years now, and some long before blogging was ever heard of. I'm almost a bit reluctant to do this because sometimes I think I might be too complimentary toward the people that bless me. Almost as if I'm kissing up, or something. I'm certainly not, but I'm just so grateful for these folks. So... here we go:

For no other reason than they deserve it, I'm going to break the rules. I'm going to list five... women, and then five men. Ladies first:

1. Kim Shay. I first met Kim through blogging, and from the very first post of hers that I read, I was a daily reader. I went back through her archives to read more of her writing and the more I read the more at home I felt. We live pretty close to each other so two summers ago (I can't believe it's been that long already) we decided to meet one day for coffee and spent hours and hours just gabbing away about everything under the sun. It's like that every time we get together, including today. We never run out of things to talk about, laugh about, and pray about.

2. Rebecca Stark. When I first started reading blogs, long before I ever started my own (3 yrs ago this month, I can't believe it's been 3 years already), Rebecca's blog was one of the first I ever came across. Like Kim's, I knew from my first read that Rebecca was someone that I wanted to read daily. A fellow sister in the Lord that wasn't afraid of the deep theological discussion? Are you kidding me, how rare that truly is! In one of my very first posts at my very first blog, I said that when my blog grows up, it wants to be Rebecca's blog. That hasn't changed.

3. Marla Swoffer. Some of you will remember Marla and remember her well. Marla is no longer blogging, but her blog was always a source of wit, practical Christian instruction, and Marla was not afraid to take on the hot topics and do it with grace and truth. She simply rocked as a blogger and even though she put away the blogging game nearly a year and a half ago, I still miss having her to read every day.

4. Like Kim, I have to go outside the rules here again and name a sister who isn't a blogger but the wife of one: Darlene Johnson. Darlene and I "met" through her husband's blogging (you may have heard of him, he's a rather obscure blogger) and she has been nothing but a joy, inspiration, Godly example and a true and dear friend in so many ways that if I started listing them all it would only embarass her.

5. Last but certainly not least for the ladies is Jen Elslager. I met Jen through a challies "a la carte" link once upon a time where he mentioned something about her posting about her cat, Toby. Actually I think it was Toby that was doing the blogging. I went on over and was so struck with her sense of humor and love for the Word that she became an instant daily read. I love it when bloggers can not only dig deep into theology but also show their sense of humor, and Jen does both. Plus, Toby is one very doctrinally sound cat. That's a combination that's hard to beat.

And now for the men...

1. Dr. James White, aka Doc, or DrO, or DrOakley, or DrOAloha or one of his other nicks he uses when he's in the channel at #prosapologian. I call him Doc, although when we did meet in person last fall I called him James - which he says most people that meet him from the channel, don't do. I'm a rebel - I can't address someone in person by their online nick, I feel like a gooner doing that. In any case, I discovered his writing back in 1998 through a little book on John 6. I read it and was so impressed I looked him up on the web (long before doing such a thing was so easy) and discovered his website and eventually his irc chat channel. I'm absolutely blessed to know him, be able to read his works, listen to his web broadcast twice weekly and learn from him. I'm currently reading Scripture Alone that he wrote in 2004, and it's just an excellent "beginner" sort of treatment on the subject of Sola Scriptura. I thought I was pretty well educated on this topic but he goes places I never even thought of, and I've already learned quite a bit. I always learn something from him, and that - to me - is just very cool.

2. Phil Johnson, aka "rather obscure blogger" mentioned above in the ladies section, #4. I started reading Phil around the same time I started reading Doc, and I just cannot tell you in how many ways his ministry has impacted me over the years. The Lord has used Phil's ministry (and wit and wild sense of humor) to teach me a lot of things and think deeply about many other things. Just today I mentioned this to Kim while we were chatting away about different people. Phil is not afraid to say it like it is, and remember to temper his words with respect. This is SO rare, and something I appreciate so much, and that's exactly what we need more of. May his tribe drastically increase, and soon. I've never checked for sure, but I think in the three years of blogging (here and at the now closed ENo) I think I've probably linked to Phil more than anyone else. I don't even care if that sounds like fan-girl-speak, I just treasure this brother's ministry that much. (And yes I'm non-sinfully jealous that Kim got to meet him and Darlene in person, before I did!)

3. Steve Camp. I first heard Steve sing on the radio, like many others - back in 1994. I'll tell you all a little story now (that I recently told my 21 yr. old, that understandably didn't remember much about that day when she was a little girl), and it might make you cry or get lumpy-throated... so get tissues just in case:

Leaving the church that hot day in August 1995, after my late husband's memorial service, I put the girls in the van and got in myself. I reluctantly started the van as I realized "it" was all over. The cancer, the waiting, the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the crying, the saying goodbye for the last time, the funeral... all of it. OVER. It all hit me that it was over, and from that very second onward, everything in my life and in my home would be so different. I also knew that there would be 90 million people at my house when I got home. I knew there would be dishes of food and people trying to be brave for me and waiting to hug me and all that goes along with that scenario. I didn't want to go home, I didn't want my life to change, and I didn't want it the way it was. I wanted to delay that scene for as long as possible - to just stop time or even better, go backwards five years before he was ever diagnosed - but I knew I had to go home and take that next brutally painful step into a brand new chapter of life. I was a 29 year old widow and was absolutely terrified of what that next step and next chapter was supposed to look like. If ever there was a surreal moment, that one was it.

As I sat there in the van having all of these thoughts flash through my head, I turned on the local Christian radio station and started to back out of the parking place in the church parking lot when I heard these soulful words on the radio:

There's a hard, hard place nobody ever told me of
All I ever heard about was peace and love
I was told that trouble couldn't touch a child of God
So when the trials came furiously
They nearly sucked the life out of me
Until I prayed

Carry me, through this world
Lift me up, when I fall
I am weak
And You are strong
And I'll be standing on my knees
For only You, can carry me

With tears still streaming down my face (but trying so hard to be a rock for the girls) I immediately felt a sense of relief and assurance that indeed my strength was not my own, but coming straight from Heaven above. New tears of thankfulness mixed in with tears of such sadness. That song deeply touched me and since my house was less than 5 minutes from the church, I was pulling into my driveway just as the song was ending. I was still terribly grieving of course, but in a more prayerful mood and thankful to the Lord for His mercy, and for Steve's music ministry. Those words softened one of the worst days of my life (second only to the day Ben passed away, 3 days prior) and made all the difference at just the right moment in time, thanks to God's providence and mercy.

As you all know Steve started blogging a couple of years ago and I started reading from the beginning. Not only am I blessed by his ministry I'm blessed to have gotten to know him as a friend over the last couple of years, and to have been able to finally say thank you (and tell him this story) for what he does for the glory of God. (side note: Isn't it somewhat wild when you really think about it, how the vehicle of blogging has been providentially used to allow us to meet folks we'd never have met this side of Heaven, otherwise?)

4. Darrin Brooker. I don't recall where I first saw a link to Darrin's blog but like all the others that are my daily reads, Darrin became one from day one. I had a chance to meet him last fall after a Sola Scriptura conference in Toronto, but we really didn't have much opportunity talk. It was a big table and I think there were about 15 of us all sitting around the table, and he was a good distance away. Darrin doesn't even know how much his writing has impacted me, but I guess he will now, eh? :-)

5. Daniel at Duologos. Daniel's writing takes you right into the scene he's describing, and will either make you laugh outloud, think deeply, or cause a lump to well up in your throat as the tears pour down your cheeks. This is one gifted brother, and he never fails to say something that I don't still think about hours later. It happens often, and just happened again last night. If you are not a regular reader at Daniel's, you're really missing something that you don't really want to miss.

Now, if you get this award you're supposed to be a good little blogger and give it out to five others that likewise bless you. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to do that so I'm going to be a rebel again and just not include the rules for contuining this. If you really wanted to, you could just do what I just did and that'd work out real well.

Ms. Alaneus Thursday

• Kim tagged me for a really nice sort of meme-thing. I'd like to list my own 5 bloggers but I have too much to do this morning before she comes over. Or... I could just wait and have her do my laundry & clean the downstairs bathroom. I have a feeling she isn't interested though. I'll list my 5 choices later on (Lord willing) but you're going to see some repeat-entries.

RBS - Reformed Baptist Syndrome• I have RBS. If you have it too, have we got a shirt for you. See them here.

• I read something yesterday that made me so mad I instantly got a headache (that hasn't gone away) and then a very upset stomach. I need to stop reading things that make me mad.

• For the last couple of days it's been really hot here in southern Ontario, right around 90F. Yesterday afternoon brought us a t-storm with lots of rain & wind, and I woke up this morning to a refreshingly cool house. The sky is a little bluer this morning and the grass looks a bit greener. I love it when that happens and it always reminds me of this passage:

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him." (Lamentations 3:21-25)

I only wish this came to my mind every morning, no matter what.

• I don't advertise it, but I've been trying (for the last 4 years) to get rid of the baby-blubber I packed on when I was carrying Ruth. She'll be 4 next month and it's taken me this long to get here. While carrying the little wisp of a kid, just before she was born I was pushing the scales at nearly 250. For me, that's a lot.

In the last couple of weeks a troubling thing happened. My two favorite pair of shorts no longer fit. One of them I had to take the elastic out of the waist band to replace with less elastic, and the other pair will soon follow. It does feel good to see the weight go, but it doesn't feel so great to have your shorts fit like you're wearing someone else's clothes. In case anyone cared to know, I've lost almost 100 pounds, and I have 10 more to go to get to my goal. I've found eating cheetos is very helpful in this endeavor, lol.

• Did you know blogger now has new toys? It's called Blogger in Draft and you can sign in to the beta version in your dashboard. You can post polls in your sidebar (which I did yesterday and it's gone completely ignored, you horrible non-poll taking readers) and you can embed video clips right from your WYSIWYG post editor. There's another deal about enclosures but I have no idea what that's for, probably something either very cool or very pointless but be sure to check it out. Anything that makes blogging easier and more useful, is a good thing.

BlogKitty!• If you love kitties, be sure to check out Kim's post today (later today?) on bloggers & their kitties.

I think she's posting it later because she'll be here soon to do my laundry visit with me and talk about all of you. So be sure and check that out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blogging Cats

As per Kim's request - this is DJ, Pyro and Dougal. You've all seen the Beagle, so she didn't make it into this pictorial today.

Pyro & DJ
Dougal MacCree Rolfe

DJ was named after Dougal, of all insane things. When he was a wee little kitty, one of the first things I noticed about him was that he had almost the same exact markings as Dougal. So, I named him Dougal Junior, or DJ for short. Pyro on the other hand, was impossible to name so I asked for help from the nice folkses in #prosapologian. I described him, and at the time he was more of a smokey/dark gray than black, so one of the brilliant minds there (Flamey, of all people, and yes that's really her nick name) suggested Pyro. Pyro stuck & the rest is history.

Old School

I suppose there are a variety of factors that make me the way I am, but the bottom line is simply that I am fairly old fashioned when it comes to certain things. I'm not even really sure that "old fashioned" is the right way to describe myself, but for a lack of a better word/phrase, that's the one I'm using.

I'm from the school of thought that there are just some things in life that are not and should not ever be subjects for public conversation. I know I've written on this before but I'm just too lazy to go track it down and update it, so I'll start from scratch. Consider this a refresher.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last 10 years, you've no doubt noticed that more and more professing Christians are acting MORE and more like professing unbelievers. In their walk, talk, entertainment choices, the way they raise their kids, the sermon topics at church - and virtually every other area of life. It seems to be a common theme these days that instead of confessing a weakness for *whatever* (insert whatever besetting sin that would be the whatever), and seeking accountability and encouragement from fellow believers to avoid that temptation (afterall, we don't really want anyone to know we're weak, fallen, easily tempted human beings, do we!?), that the more common thing to do is "unpack", "redefine", "deconstruct" and make every excuse in the book, to justify participation in said sinful conduct. I recently mentioned to a friend that the thing about unpacking something (that never needed unpacking to begin with) is that it never quite fits back in the box the same way. In a very real sense, there are certain things that should just stay in the box, so to speak.

The one area I notice this the most, is probably in publicly posted conversational topics. Blogs, websites & chat rooms. While it's certainly not limited to the internet, this is where a lot of us spend a decent amount of time during the week and this is where I'm seeing it more and more.

The particular kinds of topics I'm referring to are such things as intimacy between a husband and a wife, personal issues that pertain to either men or women, graphic details of any kind of personal sin struggle, or the retelling of details/events that took place during the last battle that was lost.

The thing is, we've all got issues whether we admit it or not. We're all struggling with something or another, we all have questions about things, and we all have opinions of things - some right and maybe even some misguided. But from where I sit, I honestly can't see the value in any way, to make such intimately personal subjects fodder for public consumption. I'm of the mind that men should discuss men's issues privately with other men - and the same for women. I'm also of the mind that no one has any need to know the grapic details of my or your latest struggle with sin, because the Lord already knows and He's the one we're supposed to be concerned with first and foremost. Isn't He? In our day it's apparently the thing to do to be "authentic" with people and let them know you're just as much of a wretched sinner as they are, so whipping out all the gorey details is good.(?) How twisted is that? (Ephesians 5:11,12)

The thing is, there are countless things we can talk about publicly, and several things that are important enough and personal enough to deserve private attention and personal discussion one on one with those who are wiser than us, and will give us sound, Biblical instruction, advice and support. Then there are other things that are just none of my business, none of your business, and none of anyone's business but the business that takes place on your knees before God. Which is exactly where they ought to stay.

Yep, that's what I think. If that makes me old fashioned, then old fashioned it is.


One of my most favorite childhood memories was going to A&W. Sounds weird, doesn't it? Well, maybe it is but I sure loved going there. You'd place your order through the speaker that looked a lot like the drive-in movie speakers that you'd hook over your window. Then the waitress would roll out of the building on shiney white roller skates, carrying your food tray that you'd hook on your window! How cool is that anyway?

We'd go there on the days that it was Coney Dog day - I think there was some kind of deal like 4 for a dollar or something like that (mom, you'll remember!). I think I had a Coney once or twice, but my MOST favorite was A&W deep fried corn dogs and their to DIE for onion rings. Oh man... I could have lived on those for the rest of my life. The last time I had A&W onion rings they had changed the batter recipe and it was a monumental disappointment. Folks shouldn't tamper with perfection.

Over the years though, I did aquire a taste for Coney dogs but it's been years and years since I've had one. Would ya believe it, over at Hiraeth, Kim has posted a recipe for Coney Dog Sauce! I needed that, and we need those for dinner this week. Kev and the kids have never had a Coney Dog so they're going to love this.

Thanks Kim!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who wants a cookie?

Someone once told me that becoming a grandma is the most fun of all because you can spoil your grandkids rotten and then send them home. I liked that idea, and have had it tucked away in the back of my mind for years.

Today, I got to try it out when I stopped by Jennifer's with a bag of yummy cookies. You will note who is NOT present in the last picture.

Grandma & Jocelyn
grandma gives Jocelyn a yummy chocolate cookie
grandma loves miss cookie baby!
why look at the time! gma has to go now

And with that, my visit with baby Cookie Face was over as I suddenly had to leave.


Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. - Romans 14:1-10

It's striking to me that this passage comes up again and again in my thoughts, because it seems to come up again and again in circumstances that I either witness firsthand, or have been a part of.

One example that came to mind just recently was a situation that I've encountered on several occasions in so-called Christian chat rooms. To be clear, I say it that way because often the conduct in various Christian chats is far removed from what I consider to be Christian (according to what the Scriptures teach about the fruits of a believer). Thankfully I don't see this much anymore in that context because I've long since quit going places where this kind of conduct takes place.

The specifics of the example has to do with Christians who drink wine or beer. Numerous times I have watched chatters who drink, mock and berate the chatters who do not drink and find it an offense. They're made fun of and insulted in the most condescending ways you can imagine. On the other side of the coin, there have been many non-drinkers who pronounce judgement on the drinkers, and dismiss them as unsaved or adhering to antinomianism. I confess, it was hard not to agree with such an observation when the drinking Christians acted like such bombastic neanderthals about the whole thing. Once while watching such a conversation take place I wondered what it might feel like to be a recoverying alcoholic and witness such an exchange. Or what it might look like to me if I were unsaved, and watching professing Christians act this way.

This is just one of so many different examples. The subject could easily be just about anything, including celebrating Christmas, or participating in Halloween... going to movies or listening to particular kinds of music. The list is pretty long, since we all come from a different place as far as traditions and maturity go. It is also certainly not limited to "online conduct" since the Scriptures that address this were definitely referring to face to face behaviors. I can only be thankful that I haven't had much personal experience with this face to face. I only wish during those times of watching this sort of thing take place in a live chat, that I would have been able to interject some great words from Scripture on this. In the couple of times that I tried, along with others who did try, I was only made fun of and dismissed with the rest of the folks that were trying to take the chat to a different level. It was frustrating to say the least.

While I think everyone who reads this blog already knows that I am certainly not a Greek scholar, I do think it's important to dig a little deeper into Scripture by referring to the original languages to get a fuller impact of the text. I try to do that with any verse or passage because for me, it just opens it up in a way that translated English doesn't always do. For that reason, the words/phrases I've emphasized above are the key words in this passage that for me, spell it out quite clearly how we're to think of and treat one another in the body. The original language and usage of these words paints a larger picture and I would encourage you to do this study yourself as well. It's been a tremendous help for me.

In v.1 "doubtful disputations" is another way of saying that we're not to receive a weaker brother with the attitude of arguing and disputing. If he's the weaker brother then it's already a given that he doesn't understand certain things or might have a skewed idea about other things especially pertaining to Christian living and doctrine, but the way to teach him the right way is not with disputes and arguments. Pastor John MacArthur said it this way:

"Paul tells the strong to "receive" the weak in faith. The Greek word translated "receive" means "to take to oneself," and is preceded by the preposition pros, which intensifies that meaning. Paul is commanding the strong to embrace the weak into their love and fellowship. Those with a clear understanding of Christian freedom should reach out and receive those with a lesser understanding... Paul says to receive the weak, "but not to doubtful disputations." The strong should not receive the weak to pass judgment on their opinions and argue with them. The purpose in receiving our weaker brothers is to love them."(source)

Before I go any further let me just stop here and admit that I don't always do this. Ironically, as much as it bothers me when I see or hear of this happening, I'm not entirely guiltless of ever having done it myself, assuming to be the stronger brother and speaking down the weaker brother. The most common manifestation of this for me would be when I get overly frustrated with some of the kids in the things they say and/or do. In reality, if I were the stronger more mature Christian I would be gracious, loving, understanding and prepared to give an answer to gently and patiently guide them into a more Biblical understanding of the things they were weak in. The stronger brother should always display the grace of Christ in his reactions and treatments of the weaker brother and I know for sure that I don't always do this. Two other verses that immediately come to mind in reference to thinking of the welfare of others before yourself are Philippians 2:3 and Romans 12:10.

In v.3 the one who is not supposed to despise the other, is the stronger brother, the one that eats all kinds of things. The word despise used there is in effect saying the stronger brother is not to scorn, treat with contempt, look down on, disregard as not worth one's time, deride or run down the weaker brother. For myself, growing up the youngest of 3 kids I can remember being the littlest, weakest and least experienced and how it felt at times when my older siblings didn't treat me so well. Thankfully they didn't do this as a rule, but kids are pretty cruel at times and the older & stronger are to never treat the younger and weaker in such a cruel way. I think any parent with more than one kid will get this right away. I find myself reminding my own kids of this very thing, almost every day.

Further in v.3 the weaker brother is not to judge the other brother for what they're doing. In other words, the weaker brother is not to have the dismissive, judgemental opinion of the stronger brother being automatically wrong because they're doing something that the weaker brother does not do. To have such an opinion is a judgement call that the weaker brother isn't truly qualified to make based on his lack of maturity and discernment. In the context of young sibling relationships, it's quite a common thing for a younger sibling to question the liberty and freedom that an older sibling enjoys. They don't understand it, they usually don't think it's fair (and that stems from envy in most cases) and they don't always have such a great attitude about the whole situation.

What's more, the context of the way this is worded says not to do this because God has received (has fellowship) with the stronger brother - althought it certainly applies in exactly the same way that God also has fellowship with the weaker brother as well.

The words judge and set at nought in v.10 are the same words used exactly in the same way as in v.3. What stands out to me more than those words are that follow "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ".

A genuine brother or sister in Christ knows that even if they are far more mature in the faith than someone else, they still battle with their own besetting sins. We all have them, and we all will always have them until we're no longer in the flesh in this fallen world. A mature and discerning believer doesn't take delight in despising a younger believer, but I find it compelling that this even had to be addressed in Scripture - since this is what we as fallen people are so often prone to do. We puff out our chests and look down our noses because even for a slight moment, that ugly beast of pride and arrogance shows up. For reasons firmly rooted in human pride, we seem to think even for a moment that we're somehow better, or smarter than someone else. It's only a reminder that we certainly haven't "arrived" yet.

Who are we to judge our brother when we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ? Is there a more crushing question one can ask themselves?

Clearly this is not to say that we are not to correct error, or refute heretical teachings or anything like that - but it is to say that we're to be constantly conformed to Christ and be less and less like the old man that is easily provoked to moments of arrogance and pride and self-importance.

For me, this is a most convicting passage to read, no matter how many times I read it. I think it's supposed to be that way.

Monday, June 25, 2007

1,000 Words


Or, alternately titled "This is where I am right now, literally". Since, this is in fact where I am right now, this very minute. In that chair at that desk.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and the funny thing is, when I looked at this picture that someone ruthlessly and mercilessly snapped of me the other day (after a long day and into day 2 of a 4 day long headache) I noticed everything else in the picture besides me. So, this is me, this is where I blog and this is where I do the work for my store, edit my photographs, email people & all that good stuff we all do on the pc. Here's a little slice of me in my world. It's not very exciting I assure you.

To my left on the wall is my US map. Doesn't every homeschooling mom have at least one map on the wall? We have a world map too, but it's over ----> there on the other wall out of range of this pic. On our US map we have colored pushpins in places where friends and family live so that the kids can get a better idea of direction, distance & a general geological layout of the US. Maps are one of the coolest inventions EVER, and I love them. I have several others too, rolled up and standing in the corner. I need more wall space.

On the wall directly in front of me are some of my mini-posters from way back when, that I used to sell in my first online store, many years ago. The verses on these posters are Col. 3:15, Psalm 104:1, Psalm 21:13 and Psalm 145:5. Look those up, you'll be glad you did. I still look up at them and read them every day.

Just below that on the top of my desk that I actually did clean off the other day, is a variety of items. Bottle of St.Ives Aloe Vera lotion (a must have for the summer), can of lavender scented air freshener, various scented candles, a family picture taken when Samuel was a baby (and my hair was down to my waist!), a miniature wooden rocking chair, and Mr. and Mrs. Victorian Era Bear standing guard on either side of my Christmas Memory box.

The shelf below that - just above my monitor - is filled with stuff that shouldn't even be there. Books, tapes, cds, dvds, a vaccuum cleaner appliance, bottle of cold & flu capsules, super glue, glitter glue, thumbtacks, electrical tape, dog tags, mosquito repellant, flash drive, safety pins, earrings, and who knows what all else. This is always the last shelf to be cleaned off.

Then on the main desk is my coffee mug warmer (you don't have one!?), another can of air freshener (I live with animals & have a heightened sense of smell, I need stuff that smells good or I go insane), more cds next to the printer. Wanna know what's on those cds? White Horse Inn - Celebrating 15 years, several blanks, one with pictures from a friend, various program install cds, 3 John MacArthur cds, Iona, and Steve Camp.

To my left, is Mom's Disaster Area. It's a mess that desperately needs a makeover and I'm usually too busy with more important things to tackle it. A collapsable tote bin (free with your oil change at Canadian Tire, a value worth $15.00 Canadian dollars! Hurry in, while supplies last!) filled with printer paper, photo paper, forms, binders, a duster and various other junk. A shelf with all sorts of stuff just jammed in there, and a box with my computer's speakers still in their original packaging, with my camera bag sitting on top. Who needs speakers when you have a perfectly good headset? Someday I might actually hook them up, but I doubt it. Also sitting there (hidden by the weird lady in the baggy t-shirt, sloppy sweatshorts with the ever fashionable Bride of Frankenstein hairdo and the get that camera away from me you dolt facial expression) is my UBER important summer issue of Kraft Canada's What's Cooking recipe magazine. I hate recipe magazines, but this one is different. Every recipe I've ever tried from this magazine is 1. amazingly delicious and everyone in my house loves it, which is a small miracle in itself, 2. easily adaptable for store brand items instead of name brand items for people with 900 kids and a tight budget and 3. easily changable so that I can do what I do with every recipe and tweak it to make it my own. I love this magazine & look forward to every issue (and have saved every issue for the last several years).

So there ya go. TIWIARN. Literally. But not for long, because I need a coffee. And I'm thinking... so that I don't feel like a complete spazz, everyone reading this should have someone take a shot of YOU at your desk, and post it this week at your blog so that we can all take a peek into your world too. I think that would be cool, don't you? I know I'd enjoy seeing you folks in your bloggy element, as it were. Okay, time for coffee.

Oh, and not including this sentence, it was only worth 882 words. Yes, I counted just for kicks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An Hour Well Spent

I've been meaning to download and listen to a particluar sermon online for the last several days, but every time I tried something prevented me from succeeding. I'm on dial up and my ISP is about as stable as a rubber crutch and disconnects me constantly, especially if I'm downloading or uploading something.

To say that this is a monumental pain, is a gross understatement, but you make do with what you have, right?

In any event, today after church I was finally able to download all but the last 5 minutes of this sermon, and I'm telling you, YOU need to go listen to it. I needed to hear it, my family needs to hear it, and so do you and your family.

And this is why we appreciate our brother Phil so much.

Store Stuff


A wide variety of great evangelistic gear.

Including buttons, stickers, magnets & apparel in mens, womens & kids.

These kinds of t-shirts and various other wearable items are a great way to get a conversation started, and a great way to see doors opened to share your faith in Christ.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Non-commenters, let me have your ear a minute while I scold you

If you will indulge me a moment here, I'm going to vent about YOU. Yes you, dear reader that is reading and never comments.

Last night Kev and I had our friends over (that we don't see nearly often enough!) and for some lame reason, my blog came up. Oddly enough, a member of the church that our friends go to, mentioned my blog to one of our friends. She's a reader but she's never commented.


While I never intended to write publicly to get a load of feedback, I do greatly appreciate the feedback - even if it's in disagreement with what I've said. You might be surprised at the stuff I've learned through commenters that had a differernt viewpoint, or insight to share that I hadn't even considered. In case you're wondering, YES, this is an attempt to get more people to comment because it bugs me that I can see how many people visit each day and how FEW of you ever say BOO about anything I've posted.

Most of my readers come over from TeamPyro, more than likely scratching their heads thinking "what in the world are they linking to this dipstick for?" Well, since you're here why not say hello or something?

I haven't checked to be sure, but the second source is probably a tie between Kim and Campi.

Rounding out 3rd place is the Pulpit Magazine - you folks coming from there also probably wondering what mystical, incurable tropical disease has affected the reasoning skills of the brother that updates that blog roll and keeps me there every time. I suppose the rest of the visitors come in from an assortment of other blogs and folks hitting that random blog button and going "ugh, dumb girl blog" and clicking out as fast as their little ole mouse can take them.

I enjoy the discussions in the meta, and I don't hardly get to see much of that here. I gotta tell ya folks, it's discouraging and to be perfectly honest, has often left me wondering what in the world I'm doing with a public blog. To be sure, I'd still write even if blogging wasn't available because that's what I do. But still...

I know, I know... sometimes you just don't feel like saying anything. I get that, I do the same thing at other blogs (my BAD!) but I've begun to try a little harder to at least say "thanks, this made me think" or "you are SUCH a goon" (only on friends blogs otherwise folks might think I'm a big meanie!) or something along those lines.

Human beans are social critters by design. He made us that way. When we don't get social interaction we get a little weird, a little discouraged, and begin to wonder why folks don't talk to us. Do we stink? Are we obnoxious? Do we have a big ole nasty piece of something green between our two front teeth? Yeah I know it's just a blog, and in the grand scheme of things it's about as important as belly button lint, but you all know what I'm talking about. Right?

Some people don't give a rip about feedback and interaction with things they've said. Sometimes I'm like that too and feedback on a post doesn't matter one way or another. Most of the time though, it'd just be nice if someone said "hey, thanks". Or at least told me what a goon I am.

Ya know?

Okay, rant over. I have Saturday junk to do and my pool is green. Welcome to summer, eh?

Executive Decision

Copied directly from ENo:

Well folks, it's a wrap. ENo was created to share info and do it publicly. To inform and to educate and equip.

Mission accomplished - so after 2 years & 300 posts, ENo is shutting down. If there is anything here you think you might want to save, feel free to do that over the weekend, because ENo will be deleted permanently on Monday, June 25.

If I have anything else to say about the ECM I'll say it at my main blog, and you all know where that is (and if not, it's Reflections).

So, there you have it. Not much else to say.

Friday, June 22, 2007

You're Invited...

sure it's photoshopped, but the t-shirt is real! click to get yours and scare people on the court

To Buggy's Pity Party:

"I've been reposting old Leviticus stuff because I'm too lazy to blog. My blog has simultaneously plumbed new lows in traffic. I am so discouraged. I don't know what I shall do... I think that the badminton shark should blogspot me, because she frightens me when holding a birdie and a racquet."

That "..." in the quote means he said a bunch of other stuff inbetween the ...'s but you get the gist of it. Poor Buggy actually thinks a blogspot from me would mean an increase in his traffic? Clearly this brother is delusional. Pffft and snort, yeah - I'm influential that way... sigh.

Well, be nice blog readers and go on over there and say hello to Buggy. Take some refreshments with you so everyone can have a nice time at his party. A pity party is no fun without refreshments.

I must confess though... I did enjoy being called a badminton shark. If only I could zip around the court and make those supernaturally astounding shots like the professionals do! Now that, would be youtube worthy, eh? It's wishful thinking, if I tried it I'd prolly slip in a hole dug by that wretched beagle and snap something that isn't supposed to snap. Oh well, I can pretend I'm a badminton shark, all the same.


Run for your lives, it's MOTHRA!

Tonight, Jessica and I were attacked by a monster! Okay I'm stretching things just a little, we weren't attacked at all, but we did have a visit from Mothra. We've seen this critter several times over the past week and tonight we invited him in for a visit. He's VERY cool but I'm afraid sooner or later he's going to be a midnight munchie for a very fortunate bat.

I've searched (yes, I stayed up until after 1:30 am) and I cannot find a source to ID this moth, and it's really bugging me. No pun intended, I assure you. Do YOU know what kind of moth this is? If you do, I'd love to know.

Click on any of the images to enlarge:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Special Days

It's no secret to me that I've been accused of being someone that likes to upset the status quo. The thing is, the accusation is only partly true. It's not that I like to upset anything - I just have issues with blind acceptance of anything without a good reason for it. I ask too many questions for most people's comfort, and I don't do it to be annoying, I do it because I want answers. If the "status quo" is such without good reason, then why not question it and dig a little, you know? It might not make sense to many others, but it sure makes sense to me.

One example of such a thing is the customary reaction in society when it's someone's wedding anniversary, but the person is currently a widow or widower. Most people just ignore the day and don't say a word to the person. Why is that? I've never understood that.

While I have some personal experience as a widow, I am by no means a relationship/psychology expert. What I do know however, is that when you're married and then suddenly you're no longer married due to death, it's just not the same as it is for someone who has gone through a divorce. Yes there are similiarities but there are also monumental differences.

One of those glaring differences is the absolute finality of the situation that you face. There is no hope whatsoever of putting the marriage back together if possible, let alone even a glimmer of hope of at least reaching some kind of level of civility for say, the sake of the children. No hope of even speaking to that person ever again. It's that painful and difficult reality that makes being a widow or widower so different from being a divorced person. It's that reality that makes the wedding anniversary so different. Most divorced people I've ever known don't have much sentimental feelings for their wedding anniversary, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, ALL of the widowed people I've ever known DO have sentimental thoughts of that day.

It didn't take first hand experience in this for me to notice this among those closest to me. But it did require first hand experience for me to understand how it feels to suddenly never hear again "happy anniversary" from anyone. It's one of those situations where folks just don't know for sure what to say, usually out of concern that bringing up your deceased spouse will only make you sad. Newsflash kids - the widow or widower is ALREADY thinking of the late spouse on that day, whether you mention him or her, or not. It's their anniversary, how could they not think of them?

I've been thinking about this a lot for the past week, because it's my mom's wedding anniversary this week. My mom is now a widow, something my grandma, my sister, my step-sister and myself have all experienced as well.

I remember very well the months and weeks leading up to my mom becoming a blushing June bride. She'd glare at me for saying that, but it's true -she WAS blushing! For weeks in fact, she blushed every time the subject came up. I remember being so happy for her that finally after all those years of raising kids alone, she was going to be married. Married... my mom. It seemed so weird because she wasn't married for so long. Weird, but in a very good way because the man she was going to marry loved her, and he was a good man. There was no way in the world I could have been happier for her.

I remember going shopping for her wedding dress. Now my mom has never been too concerned about being fashionable or "trendy" but instead she's a very practical dresser. I can only assume that part of that came as a result of raising so many kids and the money only going so far. It's far more convenient to be practical than fashionable, when you have kids that need new shoes every time you turn around. I've learned that over the years, myself.

That day however, it was different. She wanted something pretty, something colorful but not "too busy" she said. She was shopping for a nice dress and wanted accessories to match. It was so much fun looking at dresses with her, I'd have bought her the prettiest dress in the world, if I would have had the money and thought she'd actually wear it!

As it turned out, I didn't even get to see my mom on her wedding day because it was a combination vacation/wedding out of state. I was perfectly okay with that - her being happy was way more important than me seeing her get married. They held a reception when they got back and it was loads of fun. I remember saying to my friend who came to the reception with me "my mom is married, how cool is that!?" It took me a while to get used to the whole thing, but it was all good.

All of that was (if memory serves?) 24 years ago. In those 24 years they had their ups and downs just like any married couple do, and while I know my impression of their marriage is from the outside looking in, I know that I'm sure glad my mom had those years with my step dad Jasper.

So Mom, I know know you're thinking of that day today. I know you remember the wedding dress shopping, the trip out of state, the phone call you had to make to that certain family member to tell her you were married - and the way she reacted (*snort!), and everything else about that day. I just want you to know that I remember it too. It was a happy day, and a happy time, and I'm glad this day will always be a special day for you. It's so easy to remember all the hard things and the sad things, but it's so much more fun to remember the great things.

I love you mom, and Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cracked Twigs?


You've heard it said never judge a book by it's cover, I'm sure. Well, I suppose the same would to apply to never judging a book by an isolated quote as well. Or would it?

I'm currently reading James White's Scripture Alone and I could paste all kinds of insightful quotes here that would be sure to not only grab your attention but in and of themselves be excellent representative quotes of the entire book. I could have done the same with the last two John MacArthur books as well.

However, with that said, I know it's easy to take a quote out of context and make it appear to say something it doesn't really mean or didn't quite intend- people do that with Scripture all the time. So when I read a quote taken from a larger body of material, it really bugs me if I can't read the surrounding text to see if the first impression I get from the quote was the intended impression.

This happened today when I read a quote from a book, posted at Between Two Worlds, and here's the quote:

"Brothers, it falls to us to be the initial risk takers in matters of the heart. Headship means being the one to go ahead and ask. It is ours as men to suffer the embarrassment of rejection if need be. It is our role to initiate. Get to it right merrily. We are the hunters. They are the quarry. It is for men to strike out into the forest and look. It is for women to crack the twigs and stir the leaves so we know where to find them." - John Ensor, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart

A few things to clarify:

1. This book is on matters of the heart as they pertain to relationships between men and women.
2. I had never heard of this book (and therefore obviously do not have it, to read it) or the author, before today.
3. The way the conduct of women is defined here, leaves me highly uncomfortable.

Obviously my issue here is #3 so I have a few questions.
- Have you read this book?
- If you did, would you recommend it?
- Did/does that quote bother you also, or are you okay being defined as a woman who goes out of her way to make herself obviously available?

I don't want to judge a book by it's cover, but this description of women really bothers me. I look forward to any insight on this one.

UPDATE: Thanks to Amanda in the comments, be sure to check this out:

"How does a woman appropriately, biblically, humbly, and submissively go about cracking the twigs and stirring the leaves?"

An excellent question and one that Carolyn McCulley at SoloFemininity has opened up the comments for, at her blog.

Store Stuff: Pro-Life!

Choose LIFE

Counter cultural? Why yes, we are. When the culture falls in line with God's word and begins to place the proper value on the life of the unborn, there will no longer be a need for such a thing as this.

Until then...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Store Stuff: Pro-Life!

Babies is Peoples!

See that?

Well that, is from the very clever and witty mind of my dear friend Marie, who suggested I do a pro-life t-shirt. I've considered having an exclusive pro-life line for some time, but it was just one of those things I hadn't gotten around to doing yet. She inspired me last night with her clever "babies is peoples!"

Check it out, they come in pink, blue and green - mens (not in pink, sorry but we draw the line there folks), womens and kids, plus caps, magnets & more.

I might have to work a bit more on the pro-life section now, to top Marie's witty idea. (You can see my friend Marie along with some apologist guy, here)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Very Worthy Project

I'll let you read the details yourself when you go here and prayerfully consider this request.

I believe this is a most worthwhile project.

Brazilian Garden Shoes, anyone?

One of the fondest memories I have of my childhood, is being able to go shopping with my mom at JC Penney’s. No, it wasn’t the shopping part that I enjoyed (bear in mind, shopping is for people who are not me), it was hearing mom say YES when I’d ask if I could go pick out my favorite candy at the candy counter: dark chocolate covered seafoam. For those of you that don’t have a clue what seafoam is, it’s sponge toffee. Not a clue why they called it seafoam, I just know they dipped it in dark and milk chocolate, and sold it by the pound at the candy counter in JC Penney’s, when I was a little girl. I hadn’t thought about that in years, but for some reason it popped into my head today as I was resting on the couch.

Then I had one of those most pointless, bizarre dreams that I have. Mom and me were at the mall (something that is scary enough by itself, me at a mall) and we entered Penney’s. I don’t know what we were looking for but we noticed they had a candy counter inside. Apparently Penney’s did away with their candy counters decades ago, but this one had one. So of course I looked around for seafoam, and they didn’t have any. I was disappointed until I noticed something called a Raspberry Medley – Brazilian Garden Shoe. It was sort of like sponge toffee – but sort of like a pastry too. It was filled with a raspberry mixture, and when baked it took the shape of a shoe (apparently a Brazilian garden shoe, whatever that is). When cooled they dipped it in some sort of sticky/sweet syrup then rolled the lower half of it in a chocolate crumble mixture. It sort of resembled a high heel that was half covered in mud. Not that I go around eating muddy shoes as a normal part of my diet, but I had to try this thing – so I bought one.

We left the candy counter and as we walked away I took a bite of my garden shoe. It was hands down, the most delicious, fruity/chocolatey pastry/candy/thing I’ve ever tasted. I tried to get my mom to take a bite and see, but she refused since she was eating some lemon thing she bought and said shoes and lemon do not go together. I found her argument hard to ignore.

In any case, that was the end of the dream and then I woke up hungry. If I thought I could pull it off, I’d recreate that recipe and make it for dessert tonight. I might even try some kind of variation of it anyway, just to say I did.

It wouldn’t be the first time a brilliant idea came to me in a dream.

What It Means This Year: Cookies

Father's Day for me, isn't what it used to be. I know there will be many others who understand that, since lives change, paths change, and people change. Through divorce or death, Father's Day (just like any other family holiday) can suddenly take on a new meaning for a lot of people.

Growing up without a dad, Father's Day was our day to celebrate our Gpa for the dad role he took in our lives. At 18 when mom remarried, we had 2 dad-people to be grateful for. But over the years both my Gpa and my step-dad have passed away, and somewhere in the back of my head I still hear that wee little voice that says "don't forget to call Gpa today" or "be sure to call Jasper today". I can't call them anymore, and still kick myself for the times I did forget to call them. Don't forget your dad-person today. Go see him if you can, or call him if you can. He wont be there forever you know.

Now, Father's Day is for Kev, and this Father's Day I'm sick (nothing serious, just one of those things) and they're all off at church while I sit here in my slob-clothes trying to come up with a brilliant plan to make his day special. I'm running low in the brilliant plan department. Besides, he's on the midnight shift this week so after church he'll be sleeping the rest of the day away.

I'm not good with change, and it usually takes me years to adapt, but adapt we do and create new traditions and new celebrations.

I think I'll shlep into the kitchen and bake up a batch of cookies for him. Not that he needs them or anything, but since he does so much for this family, and since he takes his role of father so very seriously, maybe he just does need a plate of warm cookies waiting for him after church today?

Yeah, I think that's about as brilliant as I'm going to come up with.

Do you have a face?

Carla Rolfe's Facebook profileSee that? It's a badge. A facebook badge.

Yep, I have a facebook, and no, I don't really know why except everyone and their dog Spot said "oh, you should sign up for facebook!", so I did. Because I am a sheep.

So, I really don't have a clue what I'm supposed to be doing with this thing, but now I have one and there ya go. I did list my store in the marketplace, and I did import this blog's rss feed over there... and people are writing on my wall. You know, if my kids did that, they'd all get spanked. But this is not the kind of wall that I care much about so I guess it's okay. Oh, and speaking of sheep, there's this thing called SuperPoke you can use and throw things at people. Like sheep. Yes, you can throw sheep (and other things) at people. Yeah, that's a good idea.

I suppose, since I just commented yesterday about that "wasting time" piece on FOX news, this would clearly classify as a time waster. In any event, there you have it: my facebook page/wall/thing.

I'm so glad I know how to waste time. But if you want to be my friend and write on my wall and throw things at me (and really, who doesn't?) you can take your face to facebook by clicking on that badge (WE DON NEED NO STEENKING BADGES!) and sign up or add me if you're already a faceperson. So you can waste time too, when instead we should all be cleaning our desks and putting away laundry that was folded 4 days ago.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Time's a Wasting

I read this in the Friday Technology column on FOX news:
Want to waste even more time? Become a blogger.The mechanism is easy and it's cheap — free, in fact. While you are blogging you can check other blogs and create a network of the banal. This is a great use of your time, no? "Today I ate a cheese sandwich. No wait, it wasn't like the cheese sandwich that other blogger ate 10 years ago. Really, it wasn't." And, of course, the bane of the blogosphere is still cat pictures. For every picture of a human baby in the blogosphere, there are 10 pictures of cats. What does that tell you about the state of the world? There is something especially pathetic about 30-year-old women treating these cats like babies and essentially bragging about this on their blogs. (source)

As you may have suspected, I have a few things to say. Ahem...

First, the column itself was called Unplug the Computer, Sell the TV and Get a Life. Essentially it covered the various ways we waste monumental amounts of time, being electronically diverted/entertained. In all honesty, I agree with this. We are in fact a generation/culture of people that goes into a blind panic when the power goes out. I could write about this for days and still not cover all my rants about this subject. I wont do that, however.

A couple of years ago, if you will recall, there was some sort of power station flub-up somewhere in Michigan (or somewhere) that shut down the power to numerous eastern US states and Canadian provinces for several days. We were one of those provinces, and if memory serves it was on a VERY hot day in August.

My first concern and question was “was this an act of terrorism?” After that was “oh no, the stuff in the fridge is going to go bad”. I’m a mother, we think things like that. After that I think one of my first thoughts was along the lines of “man it’s hot, I want my fan” and somewhere way (WAY) down on my list was “I’d like to be on the internet”. While I enjoy being able to use this technology, it’s not a priority in my world. Even lower on my list of concerns, somewhere trailing “go moose hunting and kill it with your bare hands – skin it and cook part of it and eat lunch spot” was “watching TV”. I’d much rather be outdoors with my camera, or reading a great book, than watch TV. (Of course 24 is exempt from this statement, and I wish to make that perfectly clear).

here kitty kitty...

Now obviously since I’m a time-wasting blogger that has in fact posted pictures of my cat(s), the above quote was sort of humorous to me, even though I’m not sure it was supposed to be taken that way. I like my cats, most of the time, and they’re a great subject for the camera. It just works, you know?

The thing that really struck me about this article and this quote (above) the most however, was the idea that bloggers create a network of the banal. Banal?

Obviously, writer of this piece has never met my blogging buddies. I know, every blogger that will read this will think the same thing, no matter who their blogging buddies are. What might be even more ironic though, is that the word banal implies a lack of originality – or nothing new under the sun, if you will. Well, I have a newsflash (which isn’t a newsflash at all), and you’ll find it in Ecclesiastes 1:9

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

While we all come across information or ideas at times that may be new to us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are brand new ideas or brand new information. It simply means it’s new to you, or to me.

That is actually one of the things I appreciate the most as it pertains to the Christian blogging community. There are some rather brilliant and articulate folks among us, and they’re a daily blessing. These are brothers and sisters that take Christian living as serious as it is and have chosen to stay on the old path, not veering to the left or the right. I love it that they do this and write about it, because what they have to say is an encouragement to me every time I read them. I have no desire for a “new thing” when it comes to Christian living – just gimme that old time religion, you know?

So if you’re looking for something new, something earthshattering or what have you, I seriously doubt you’ll ever find it here. Well, aside from the t-shirts I create, but I don’t think that counts.

Maybe I should do one of a cat, blogging, posting pictures of his people? (*snort)

The Preaching of the Cross


Like many other bloggers (I will assume), I have quite a few blogs on my bloglines that I skim through each day. All of the blogs are there because at some point or another they've addressed issues that are close to my heart, and they addressed them so well I figured I'd go ahead and add them to my list of blogs to read. While not all of the blogs I have listed there post every day on topics that are of interest to me personally, all of them do on a fairly regular basis and I appreciate reading insights from various people on these topics.

One such blog that did this recently was Strange Baptist Fire, when Andrew Lindsey posted on Ed Stetzer's message at the SBC. What caught my attention more than anything was Andrew's comments on Stetzer's points on contextualizing the gospel. Now I have not heard Stetzer's message and while I have responded to Andrew at SBF, my response was in a general sense, on that particular topic of culture and the gospel. I just want to make it clear, that this is not a refutation of Ed Stetzer's message, since I have not even heard it - this is just a post on my thoughts on "contextualizing the gospel".

This is a topic close to me personally for a variety of reasons that I wont get into just now, but suffice it to say that as a new believer in a free will/charismatic church in the mid 90's - with a million questions about evangelism, these were some of the questions I had that went unanswered.

During that time as a new believer with more questions than you can shake a stick at, over a period of a few weeks or maybe a few months even, Isaiah 55:11 kept coming up for me, in private studies, devotions, sermons I'd hear online, and snippets of devotional style messages on the radio. The more I heard it or read it, the more I kept wondering "why this verse?" Of all the verses that Christians might routinely hear in sermons or what have you, you'd likely think of John 3:16, or maybe John 14:6, or Romans 8:28. But Isaiah 55:11? Before the first time I'd heard it during that time, I don't recall ever hearing anyone use that verse for anything - and then suddenly it was before me constantly (or so it seemed).

Since I don't believe in coincidence, I knew that for whatever reasons the Lord had, He wanted me to hear that verse. Well, He certainly got my attention. It occured to me one day that Isaiah 55:11 actually answered so many of the questions I had, all with one verse:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

It was no small thing to me to see that God's word, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, would go where God sent it, would not go where He did not send it, would do what He purposed for it to do, where He purposed it to do that, and exactly how He purposed for it to do this.

Just that one verse opened my eyes to so many things. It answered questions, it settled certain doubts, and it brought me a great deal of comfort. It also compelled me to begin a cross-referencing treasure hunt that led me to these verses:

Roman 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1Cor. 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

1Thes. 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I have emphasized the sections in each of these verses that literally stood out of the pages of Scripture, when I first read them. It was an obvious, compelling thread that I was seeing in Scripture.

- It wasn't through making friends with lost people (although being a friend to them is a Christlike thing to do)

- It wasn't through being "culturally relevent" (although no one called it that at the time, and being involved in your local community is certainly a good thing to do)

- It wasn't because of them "seeing Jesus in you" (although when the lost see a hope in you that they know they don't have, it does intrigue them)

It also wasn't through "just take that step of faith" because apart from God enabling man to believe through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, not only can man not believe but man has no desire to believe, or persue a fellowship with the Father, through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. (See 1Cor.1:18 above, one more time - it is foolishness to those that do not believe)

Just by hearing Isaiah 55:11 over and over again, that motivated me to dig a little deeper and see so very clearly that becoming a genuine believer is simply and purely and entirely the work of God.

Man could live ten thousand lifetimes and still never come up with a more effective way of reaching the lost for Christ, than by this way:

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.(1Cor. 1:21)

So, when I read or hear men and women say that preaching isn't enough, or that we have to do this, add that, go here, or speak this way or live that way - either they have never read these verses and they genuinely do not know what Scripture says, or they simply don't believe it, and believe in men's methods & men's works.

While I do believe it is prudent and logical to educate yourself on either your own local culture where you are - or the culture you are called to minister in - in such areas as local traditions, language, customs, etc., that is not at all what I am referring to. In our day, this term of contextualizing the gospel seems to have taken on a new meaning, and that meaning is more along the lines of blending in so well with the lost and sinful culture around you, that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the believer and the unbelievers.

When "becoming culturally relevent" has gone so far that believers are looking, sounding and living like unbelievers, it's simply gone too far, and they have ignored the simplicity and the power of God to do His work through the gospel declared.

UPDATED: Interestingly enough this morning I woke up to read The Gospel: The Power of God at Pulpit Magazine. I'd recommend you read it as well.