Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Back

Before I share with you all the important things I learned while haitusing (if that's not a real word, oh well), I would like to thank those of you who emailed and commented and said such nice things, and prayed for me. There really is much to be said about how it changes a person's countenance when they know folks are praying for them. So thanks folks, I sure appreciated that.

Now for the not so earthshattering stuff. Random things I've learned and/or had brought to my remembrance over the last few days:

1. You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd. Oh wait... I already knew that.

2. Trying to speak to someone who has bought into what may be called easy-believism, about things that matter as it pertains to genuine Christian living, is like.. um... well, I suppose I could come up with a really witty comparison if I sat here long enough and thought about it, but I'm not feeling very witty when it comes to this subject. The thing is, there are so many people out there who console themselves with the label of "Christian" and it doesn't matter what you say to them, they put up a brick wall and shut you out. They like the label, for whatever reason, but don't you DARE speak to them about the things that please God or grieve God, because that's YOUR issue and they don't need to hear it. All the while they live sinful lives without any conviction whatsoever. They lie, they sneak around and deceive, they joke about ungodly things, use filthy language, watch raunchy television and movies, listen to angst-filled, revenge/the-whole-world-revolves-around-me-you-idiot songs, and they have the most awful webpages/blogs/myspace type of accounts you can imagine. And yet... these are Christians? Hello? Pardon me while I whip out the industrial strength RAID and use the double-barrelled electric flyswatter to bust through the dense, black cloud of millions of gnats flying all around that nasty, rotting, foul-smelling fruit.

These are people who like the label but in practice reject the lordship OF the Lord in their lives. Trying to reach them seems harder than trying to reach those that flat out reject the Lord. At least with those who flat out reject Him, you've got a starting place. With those that are in the other category, you have no starting place because they've convinced themselves they're already just fine, thank you very much. Maddening, to say the least.

3. I detest procrastination with the passion of 47 flippillion white-hot burning suns. Yet, I find myself guilty of it almost every day. A battle that rages...

4. If you have 2 male cats, and you do ALL the laundry on Saturday, and dump it all on the couch and no one folds it, one of them will spray it before church Sunday morning. Moral? Either get rid of the cats, or fold your laundry and put it away. Or fold the cats and put them away. Or something.

5. My mom is the coolest mom EVER. Not because she sent me cozy socks in the mail, and not because she sent me muffin mix that I can't get in Canoodle, but because she knows what makes me laugh, what makes me feel better, and just when & how to say it. Everyone should have a mom like mine. I think she should adopt everyone that doesn't have a mom like mine. I always wanted 900 siblings.

6. I am most productive when I have a plan and a schedule. I've been working on the sequel to the faerie story, and I'm just about done with chapter 3. Its all very exciting too. Parts of the story come to me in my dreams, believe it or not. The kids loved it when I read the first one to them, and they've been hounding me like crazy for the sequel. The sooner I finish it the sooner they'll quit stalking me and demanding more excitement and adventure.

7. The Children Desiring God Sunday School curriculum is simply top-notch. If your Sunday school doesn't use it and is in the "looking" phase, check this out.

Last but certainly not least, is that whoever first said that teenagers are put on earth for their parents sanctification, either possessed the wisdom of Solomon, or made that statement from a padded room somewhere. Maybe both. In any event... we press onward because He is our strength.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gone fishin'...

I don't know if I'd call it a hiatus, but I think I'll be gone for a while. I have another writing project I promised I'd finish soon, so I need to make good on my promise. I have a quilt to finish, sewing/mending projects to finish, closets to clean and a whole bargeload of personal family issues that leave me feeling spiritually and emotionally exhausted these days. There is no truth to the rumor that you can use up all your tears, and I know this first hand.

So, I'll be gone for a while to deal with all that stuff. Your prayers would sure be appreciated for my family.

See ya in the funny papers...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Battle Begins?

Well my goodness, didn't I just write yesterday "the more things change..."? In reading through the comment thread at TeamPyro on this whole Pagitt/MacArthur topic, I noticed that Candy mentioned a post at Pagitt's blog that sounded oddly familiar. It wasn't until after reading it that I remembered that very post, that he has now reposted.

It wasn't but a few months into my research of the EC beginning in late 2004, that I first received an email from Pagitt. I thought the whole thing was rather odd, until further developments shined a brighter light on things.

I'm going to do a little reposting of my own here. Pagitt wrote to me in 2005 and not long after posted the above mentioned tidbit on his blog. What follows is his original post copied directly off his blog at the time, and my original comments (typos & various grammatical mistakes and all) to it, written in January of 2005. The blog Emergent No didn't even exist yet, and since so many well read and well researched brothers have taken up the cause on this one, all my old sites on this subject no longer exist.
____________________

January 09, 2005 Wanna Be My Friend? (original post here)

About a week ago I received an email from Doug Pagitt of Solomon’s Porch. He said he was recently ‘turned on’ to my site. (I only assumed he meant my emergent page, since somehow I doubt he has much interest in Mom's Kitchen, or becoming a Titus2 Woman). His email message said he was appreciative of my thoughtfulness in regards to emergent, that he is part of emergent, and had in fact been present when the name was settled on his basement… and that he wanted to be friends.

Yep, that’s what he said.

In fact, he made reference to being my friend, 4 times, in an 11 line email message. I have to say, even though I wouldn’t know Doug Pagitt if I plowed him into a snow bank in my driveway, for all I know, he’s one of the nicest guys in the world. Nice guys are cool, the world needs more nice guys, to counteract the creeps. With that said, mentioning becoming someone’s friend, 4 times in 11 lines, did seem a bit over the top. Somewhat odd, I thought. Friendly, but kinda weird, in a nice sort of way.

I didn’t respond to his email, for no other reason than, I’ve been exceptionally busy this last week. I’d actually forgotten about it – between school, kids, housework, excellent reading material, and all sorts of other things that consume the time of a mother of 7 kids – Pagitt’s email slipped into the “I might actually get to this” file.

Over the last few days however, I’ve noticed on some of my favorite sites, some references to a few snotty comments about Steve Camp’s review of Brian McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy (as well as snotty comments about Tim Challies’ review of the same book). So what does this have to do with Doug Pagitt’s email to me? Everything… keep reading.

Through a series of links, all down on Steve Camp’s review, I stumbled onto an article written by (guess who?) Doug Pagitt, coincidentally enough, posted the same day, as his email to me. The web url of this article (blog entry, whatever) is the very same url he has in his sig file: http://pagitt.typepad.com/ (he also included in the sig: http://www.solomonsporch.com/, http://www.reimaginingspiritualformation.com/, http://www.emergentvillage.com/, and his phone number, in case I wanted to call him, I guess?)

When I first read his email I did click on 2 of the links, but oddly enough never clicked on the other 2. It all seems pretty much the same material to me, a lot of talk of being relational, generational, conversational, and a whole bunch of other words ending in “al” and a hefty dose of words beginning with the prefix “post”. Emergents indeed have their own language. So back to the article I found today. Here it is, my comments (I guess we can consider this my reply to Doug Pagitt’s email, in other words, I’m finally getting to it) are in blue, under his:

The Battle Begins - Take your battle positions

(Just reading the title of it made me feel like I just begun to listen to a really bad karaoke singer, somewhat embarrassed for him, but hoping it would get better)

A number of us have been suggesting for years that at some point the people who are not so pleased with the suggestions of theological and methodological changes people within Emergent are suggesting would start to express their opinions and start causing trouble. And that when it happened the accusations would become personal and relentless. I think it is fair to say that 2005 will be that year.

(Okay here we go, the stage has been set – anyone that is “not so pleased” with emergent, are 1. opinionated 2. troublemakers 3. personally accusatory and 4. relentless. Now remember, if you are not so pleased with emergent, this means you.)

From books and books, to websites, to conversations (imagine a link to the staff at Bethel who were so bothered by presentation there this Fall), and to presentations, (imagine a link to Duffy Robins) there is a backlash, an expectant backlash, about all this talk of new ways and new thinking. The critiques are at times well made, but most often seem shallow. Some chose to marginalize emergent as nothing much to worry about, while others claim that it is the epitome of what is wrong with the church (losing truth and the Gospel, that sort of thing).

(Critiques of emergent are also 5. primarily shallow)

But most often there is a suggestion of Emergent being "slippery", and having little or no foundation to stand on (so it is nice to hear that they are getting the message).

(I read this several times, to make sure I was getting his sarcasm, if that’s what it is? Is it me, or is he admitting Emergent is slippery and has no foundation to stand on? I hope I misunderstood that, because if not, it’s worse than I thought.)

And there is a suggestion that we are just dangerous - either out of incompetency or ill-will. The incompetency will be the most common this year, then when that falls short the ill-will will kick in.

(Funny, but from what I’ve been reading, and from what I’ve been saying, Emergent is indeed dangerous insofar as it’s just another flash in the pan, flavor of the month movement that is going to snare a lot of weak believers, and/or disgruntled believers, and introduce them to a lot of mysticism, ecumenicism, and all sorts of other things that the Scriptures never exhort us to follow after. Are they incompetent, these emergent leaders? Probably not, I think many of them are exceptionally gifted artistically, and possess some seriously sought after leadership skills – not to mention – well educated and 100% sincere in their mission. I’d hardly call them incompetent. I would call them wrong, however. The sovereignty of God in all things, is glaringly absent from most of the literature I’ve read of theirs. In nearly every case, on every blog, book promo, article, church site, etc., I read a man-centered “experience”. God’s glory and God’s sovereignty are secondary concerns, at best. Would I accuse them of having ill-will? Naw… I’d suspect those with ill-will are probably few and far between, and would be seriously rebuked by most emergents. They do appear genuinely concerned with GOOD stuff, even if they’re wrong in doctrine.)

Most of this is coming from the Radical Reformers (their title not mine), who see the reclaiming of Christian faith as the call of the church (and that means to the biblical/reformed faith) and not the remaking of it.
(Radical Reformers? So far in this article he’s made reference (via his links above) to critics as being: Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth, Justin Taylor, J. Taylor, DA Carson and Steve Camp… these guys call themselves “radical reformers”? Maybe he’s just referring to anyone who is not pleased with emergent? If this is the case, add 6. radical reformers to the list).

I have tried to make contact with a number of these people to create a friendship so we can disagree agreeably and in friendship, but to no avail. But if I saw them as dangerous I am not sure I would be so interested in being friends with them either. But then again, that is not true. I do see these circumcisers (my term) as dangerous and that is precisely why I want to be friends with them.

(Here we go, the connection, viola! I can only assume Pagitt is including me in this definition, since that’s real close to the wordage of the email he sent me, the same day he posted this to his blog. Add 7. circumcisers and 8. dangerous. I find it interesting he says his efforts to contact these dangerous circumcisers was “to no avail”. None of them responded and said “yes Doug, I realize you loathe the doctrines of grace, and the fact that I have dared to speak against emergent, but by golly, I think you’re a swell guy and I really wanna be your pal!” ?? I can’t imagine why none of them (us?) responded this way, it makes perfect sense to me.)

It seems to me that we are better served when those we are afraid of can become friends, the only other option is we view them as an enemy, and since I am suppose to love my enemy anyway, I might as well get a friend out of it.

(Okay, add 9.fear-producing and 10. ‘the enemy’)

But this face to face friendship does not seem to be in the cards in the near future. So, it is time to take up battle positions. I suggest these Battle Positions: A Smile, A Wink, A Prayer, A friendly Email, Offers of hospitality, Invitation to Friendships

(Ironic how, after listing at least 10 rotten descriptions of “critics” Pagitt seems to want us all over for a backyard bbq and a game of volleyball? Seem sorta… creepy?)

2005 looks like it might become the year the vomit hits the fan (a much worse visual to me than the classic "shit hitting the fan"). May we with all the graciousness of a personal care attendant have the grace and patients to clean it up when it comes.

(Well, isn’t that pretty? And so edifying, as well. I’m sure glad I was reading this, instead of hearing it, or worse, hearing it in the company of my young children. Such vulgar language coming from someone who claims to want to be everyone’s friend, for Christ’s sake. It’s one thing, in the heat of the moment of anger or pain, for pretty much any believer to spit out a colorful word, it’s a whole different ball of wax for one to purposefully type it, re-read it in a proof-read (assuming one does?) and hit enter. Oh wait, I bet he was expecting that response from an opinionated, troublemaking, personally accusatory, relentless. primarily shallow, radically reformed, circumcising, dangerous, fear-producing enemy. Ya know, the more I think about it, the more this friendship sounds just smashing. I think I really want to be friends with these folks – right after I slam my head off a brick wall and join a coven of super-cool wiccans.)

Blessed Be the Personal Care Attendants. Blessed be the people of Emergent.

(What? Did I just say Wiccan? How odd, since Pagitt’s sign off included the classic Wiccan parting comment, not once, but twice. Oh no, emergents are wiccans!? Naw… but it’s odd he’d use this sign off. Sure, it’s a Biblical term as well, in the King James Bible it’s used 62 times. The vast majority of which, are in direct reference to exalting the triune Godhead or His kingdom (51 times). In Wicca, the phrase is used to exalt the created – people, nature, etc. Having been online for the last 11 years, meeting people from all over the world, all sorts of backgrounds, etc., it’s pretty much a given that folks who serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who also know anything about Wicca, do not sign off or say goodbye with “blessed be”. Oh but wait… I forgot, silly me, one of the coolest things about emergent is the whole cultivating awesome things from all kinds of religions, cultures and time periods, and including them in this new and creative Christianity. Maybe there’s a connection? Naw… I’m sure it just meant “take care”.)


MY CONCLUSION?

Well, I don’t really have one, yet. I do however, have a verse of Scripture that keeps popping into my head, whenever I read the writings of an “emergent”: A double minded (divided in interest) man is unstable (inconstant) in all his ways (course of conduct, manner of thinking, feeling, deciding) (James 1:8).

I like my friends, and I also like making new friends. I don’t however, like it when someone with an agenda, with an ulterior motive, uses the guise of “becoming my friend” as a ruse, to convert me to their mode of thinking, or at the very least, use the newfound friendship to sway my opinion of their thinking. This, is pure deception. This is what cult scouts do.

No thanks… I’ll keep the friends I have, and I’ll remain standing on the word of God, especially as it pertains to how we are to live, to please Him. As one of those friends I have, said recently: “the church of Jesus Christ has been in existence for 2000 years, whatever this is, that’s emerging, ISN’T the church”.

___________

My conclusion nearly three years later? Pagitt's words then and now, speak volumes. May those who have an ear to hear, pay very close attention to what's being said.

Fall Color

Today, I ran away from home. Well, I sorta ran away from home... if taking the long way home and then going for a walk in the woods behind the house, counts. It wasn't really where I wanted to go to get some great autumn shots, so I'll have to try that again sometime this week, if possible. Here are a few I did get though:



This was taken just down the dirt road from my house.



This was taken on the other side of the road.

In the woods behind my house. It was hot today and the walk out there across the plowed field made me even hotter, so I ducked into the cool woods for a few minutes. It was really nice in there.

Tulip had a royal conniption fit when I came out of the woods. She's never seen me back there so to her, I was a monster that she needed to howl at.

One lonely seagull flying over the field to join the 90 million others down the way.

You can see the others I took today, at my flickr page. I wasn't very happy with the way most of these turned out, so that's even more motivation to run away one more time this week and try it again!

A Sister in Need

Kristina sure could use your prayers, folks.

The More Things Change...

I suppose it depends on where you live geographically, but in many places this time of year can be a rather unpredictable season. Using today for an example, when I left the house to run errands it was clear & sunny but there was a chill in the air so I wore a jacket. Not even halfway through my errands it became far too warm for a jacket as the mercury soared up to around 84 degrees today. This is the time of year when you get a mixed bag in the weather department, and that's really the only predictable thing about it.

There are a lot of people who like change in general, as they find it exciting and challenging. For the most part, I'm not one of those people. When I lived in Palm Springs I very much liked the fact that when I got dressed for the day it would be shorts and a lightweight top, 99.99% of the time. No hunting for a sweater, no coats, and rarely anything but sandals on my feet. It was simple because the weather was consistantly warm (or brutally hot, for normal people). It was so simple in fact, when I moved up north I realized I didn't even own a sweater or long pants, and had to go shopping immediately, as I was freezing to death in 65 degree weather.

I thought about these things today as I drove along the tree lined streets where the trees were simply sparkling with so many hues of red, orange and yellow. Where I live it's impossible to miss the fall color change. My radio was tuned to the local Christian station that plays John MacArthur's daily program, and I couldn't help but think of the connection between change, and the recent controversy surrounding his recent appearance on CNN along with Doug Pagitt - and then the hoopla that's gone on since. I wont rehash it here but if you're one of the 3 people on the planet that haven't read Phil's posts about this, then you oughta head on over and see what he has had to say. It's worth your while, if sound doctrine is your passion.

The simple reason I thought about change, was due to the fact that Pagitt represents so much of what's so wrong with Christian trends, or fads. If you read Spurgeon at all, you'll know that this is really nothing new in Christendom, but that it's just another round of the same old junk, repackaged and relabled for a new generation. MacArthur on the other hand, represents the flip side of this, the unchanging message of Scripture that is powerful enough to break the hardest, blackest, most vile heart, and turn that person to the cross of Christ with faith and repentance.

How comforting is it, that the message of Scripture never changes? How comforting is it that the God of Scripture never changes? Just how blessed are we really, that we have faithful men of God in our generation that are willing to take the mockery and criticism for their stand on that unchanging truth? As I drove along and had these thoughts today, John MacArthur was teaching about the doctrine of election, and hitting on so many key points that I was just blessed to hear this truth being declared over the radio waves on a mostly fluff-infused radio station.

Since change is inevitable, there will come a day when our solid leaders, pastors, apologists and authors are no longer with us, and we'll have a brand new list of names leading our evangelical Christian churches. This is sort of a bittersweet thought. On the one hand they'll be in glory and we'll be so overjoyed for them at that time that their race is finally over, and they will enter into His rest for all of time. While we will grieve, indeed our grief is tempered with this joy and this hope that we have, by His grace.

I just can't help but wonder though, who will take up for the gospel in the next generation? Will the Lord be pleased to raise up bold and solid men to preach and teach and write books? I believe He will, and I believe many of them will be the very young men that are today, learning from the men in our time, and those that have gone before us.

While I prefer things stay the way they are, and while I am indeed grateful to brothers in the church like pastor John MacArthur, I am sure glad there are young men with sharp discernment that learn from them, and that will be the leaders in the church in years to come. Men who will represent the unchanging gospel, and the God of Scripture that never changes, and who will be bold enough to preach the word of God knowing full well that it is indeed sufficient to change lives from in the inside out.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Memory Verse

An effective way to hide His word in your heart:


• Write it out
• Say it outloud
• Look at it again once (or more) later in the day
• Say it outloud again
• Repeat this every day for a week, or until you have it memorized


This week's memory verse reminds us that our God has revealed to His people, His personal name, LORD. He has made Himself known to us, and desires that His people also know Him. A pretty amazing thing to consider and remember as you memorize the verse this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Store Stuff & Good Stuff

Just a few store things I wanted to bring to your attention.


Hope In the left sidebar is a new link. There are a lot of merchants that dedicate a portion of proceeds every October to breast cancer research & support, and this year I stand counted among them. This design was created especially for the campaign each year to raise awareness & support, but instead of just donating proceeds for the month of October, I'll be donating all year. So, you can show your support & get a great T-shirt, and together we can all do at least a little something for this cause. Be sure to use the coupon codes in the sidebar of the store, for a discount on all your purchases there. They rotate & update frequently, so you might want to sign up for the newsletter to be informed of the great shopping deals.

• For those of you in shopping mode already, and looking for something cool, something different, and something affordable - check out the left sidebard for the Candy You Ate As a Kid link, and see the the coupon codes listed there. You save 5% on your order AND you can use them an unlimited number of times, for each month.

• Since today is the first day of Autumn and I can no longer remain in denial that summer is over (although the high for the next two days IS in the low 80's, to which I say "yeeeee-haw"), I've decorated the store with some new colors & graphics. Speaking of the store, I've also got some really fun, and unique gift ideas coming very soon - it's a brand new section and it's something I've been working on (and will be working on for at least another week or more) for several days now. I'm having a blast doing it, and I hope you'll be delighted with it, when it's ready for it's grand opening. Yay, fun stuff!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Movie Night

We Are MarshallLast night we watched We Are Marshall. For those of you that are not aware of this movie, it's a true story that took place in the fall of 1970. When a plane crash took the lives of 97% of the Marshall University football team, the school and the community embark on a painful effort to rebuild.

Until Kevin told me about it, I wouldn't have known anything of it. Since I was only 5 years old when it happened and do not follow college ball, I would have never known a thing about it, had it not been for this movie.

For those of you that face the same problem we do in finding decent movies to rent or own that are not filled with filthy language or lewd scenes, I'm going to recommend this one. There are a couple of words here and there (said in sheer torment and grief) but overall this movie will touch your heart and might even make you cry in a few spots. Even if you're not a football fan (and I'm not) you will find yourself pulling for Marshall.

I don't recommend the movie for kids, but for the older kids (teens) and grown ups, this is a good movie that will make you glad you watched it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Store Stuff

Featured Designs of the Week

This week we wanted to feature not just our designs, but some beautiful feet (Romans 10:15) that not only preach the gospel of peace but do it at the cost of friendship with the world, rightly dividing the word of God, taking their calling of God in a sober and reverant way. Please do click on the bio links for each of our "models" to see what these men do in their local communities (and around the world) for the edification of the saints, and the glory of God. Would you like your ministry featured here? Please contact us, as we'd love to make this a regular feature of our newsletter!

See the full newsletter with the new feature that we sure hope to make a regular item, here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Derby Quilt

doesn't EVERYONE have a plush Lemur on their wall??Today was another very successful day in the project department. See?

My sewing table is finally cleaned off again and ready for me to tackle the projects in the sewing basket. You might be able to make it out if you click and view the larger image, but to the right of the sewing machine is a wire basket that contains gma's quilt squares. They are there because that's #1 project to work on after the repair projects are done. If I really set my mind to it, I could get all those repairs done in a day.

It's sort of funny how gma's quilt squares are so powerful. Technically, they're just colorful squares of cloth, but who knew they had the power to magically transport me back to the 70's, growing up in western Washington? For whatever reason today when I picked one up, something about it made me remember having dinner at gma & gpa's on Wednesday nights every week, and then how I spent my Saturday nights in WA from the time I was a little girl, until the last fall before I moved to Canada. For a span of about 25 years, every time there was one of these at the fairgrounds on a Saturday night between spring and fall, I was there! When the girls were born, they were initiated into the Saturday Night routine, and grew up expecting to be there on a Saturday night.

I really don't know what it is about the smell of burning rubber, dirt in your face, and total and complete vehicular carnage that is so appealing, but with all ladylike demeanor I say BRING IT ON! I think I was about 6 years old the first time I went, and I was hooked from the first time. By the time my sister was old enough to have friends with cars, and thats where they were headed on Saturday nights, I'd do whatever it took to get mom to let me go with them. I don't recall ever actually doing it, but I would have thrown myself on the floor and begged for hours, if it were required. By the time I was old enough to have friends with cars, that's where we went. For some folks growing up where I did, that was just the place to be on a Saturday night.

I can't tell you how strange it is, to have lived in Canada for the last 9+ years where a season of d-derby just doesn't exist. Oh they have them here, occaisionally, at the local fair, but they are nothing like the ones I grew up watching. They don't use a full track and they're about as aggressive as old ladies on a Sunday afternoon drive. Not sure what the deal is with that, but if a Canadian audience ever saw the kind I grew up with, they'd be demanding their money back for the ones they get here. Anyway, the whole TWO of them that I've been able to see in the last 9+ years in Canada were like that - maybe they were just the sleepy drivers?

So there I was today at the KDDA website, clicking on all the links, enjoying the pictures and remembering all the times that was me up in those uncovered stands (covered stands are for OLD people and whiners who can't handle a little WA rain or mud in their hair - but I did scan the crowd for any familiar faces, lol), devouring a Crazy Eric's grilled onion cheeseburger (or two, or three!) while cheering on drivers like KC Straight. Boy, those were the days.

So I had to click on the youtube links and check out some of the highlights that I've missed over the years, even if it did take all afternoon to load them, on dial up. I just did other stuff while they were loading, to make good use of my time. If you go to Youtube, standard disclaimers apply to the raunchy language in the comments and even some of the stupid music they play on the videos just watch for the carnage, that's the best part.

Can you tell I'm homesick? Maybe Kev will let me roll the van in the dirt out by the barn? Hmm....

Bible Promises: Strength

(From the Bible Promises series)
Trust in the Lord
It is most interesting to note that the Scriptures contain so many verses about God giving His people strength, that you might think we are a people prone to forgetting where our strength really does come from. Indeed we are exactly like that.

Over and over again, the Scriptures tell us where our strength is to be found. Some of the first ones that might come to mind as you think about this would be:




The joy of the LORD is your strength.
(Nehemiah 8:10)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
(Ephesians 6:10)
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
(Philippians 4:13)

Certainly there are many others, and just to give you some starting points I would suggest Psalm 18:32-33; 27:1; 28:7-8; 37:39; 73:26.


As I considered how many places there are in the Bible that consistantly reassure us of His strength, my thoughts immediately went to all the times I have diligently and even feverishly prayed and petitioned Him for strength.

Because I am a woman and a mother, the first thing that comes to mind is the process of labor and delivery, during childbirth. All of you women reading know full well how painful that is, and many men who have been at the side of their wives during the process also know how difficult it can be.

There have been a wide variety of circumstances in my life that have driven me straight to my knees and asked the same thing: LORD PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR WISDOM AND STRENGTH!... immediately after a traumatic accident with one of the kids, or myself, when I am having a particularly painful flare up with my neck, or my tummy troubles, when getting the sad news of a terminal diagnosis or the news of the death of a loved one. I could easily list more events like these but these are just the extremes in life that are common to many of us.

But what about the everyday things? Dealing with teenagers (no, I don't need to say more), handling financial difficulties, relationship issues or any number of other various kinds of personal issues. Do we not need His strength for the day to day as well?

I know I certainly do, and yet I have wondered more than once why I don't seem as desperate for it as I am during the more extreme circumstances. I know I am in desperate need of it, and I know the Bible says He will give it - and yet I'm the one who doesn't persue it with the same diligence during the day-to-day events of life.

Our Bible promises us God's strength to deal with whatever we need to deal with. Spiritual issues, personal issues, in extreme crisis or the mundane, every day events that can certainly leave us feeling worn out, weary and just so ready for the day to end. Someone once told me that God is not only concerned with the big things in our life, but every aspect of our life - that the little things are not little, with God. It sounded very cliche at the time but the more I thought about it the more I realized just how true it is. While the baby crying for hours on end may not be a "big thing" in the grand scheme of things, it certainly is an important thing how we might react to it, and the example we set by that reaction. If you neglect turning to the Lord for a moment of prayer and seek His strength for such a thing as that, you're missing a big blessing. While the checkbook also isn't a "big thing" in the larger picture, if you suddenly find your balance in the red, how you react to that is also an indication of whether you've turned to the Lord for strength or whether you've opted to dwell on the difficult circumstances and maybe even allowing anxiety and worry to guide your thoughts.

The Bible promises God's strength for His people in every area of our lives. It is our joy and blessing to be able to turn to Him for that, all the day long if need be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Trivial Stuff

If your last name was Weaver, and you were really mean, and completely retro, you might name your child Dream. (HT: stupid dreams that mean nothing whatsoever, and serve no other purpose other than to reveal to you, just how twisted you really are... and cause a collective groan among my readers).

The last few days I've been super-duper busy with all kinds of stuff. One of the things I've been busy with is this week's newsletter for the store. Yeah I know, whenever I mention the store it turns into a ghost town around here, but this newsletter is so different, and SO cool (and I wont take the credit for the coolness because it wasn't really my idea, it was a suggestion made to me long ago that I'm finally getting around to doing), that I wanted to mention it now and give you a head's up. It should be in your email inbox Friday morning for subscribers, and live on the store site on Thursday night.

One of the other things I've been busy with is updating a really cool part of my church's webpage: the mid-week ministries section. I love doing this stuff, and I'm honored they let me handle it for the church.

I never did finish my summer household project list (I never even made a list, I'm such a list-apostate!), so while Kev is on afternoon shift he takes over homeschooling with the kids, I get to shuffle through the house and do stuff that needs doing... like finishing things on my list. One of those things is the daunting task of re-organizing the upstairs hall closet. It's a disaster area quite often, since we don't have a real linen closet, and the only closet we do have upstairs doesn't have any lower shelves in it, just one shelf way up high. So that was my job today (and it's about 98.3% done).

The fun thing was, finding a box I'd sort of forgotten I had. When we packed up to move to Canada, a lot of the little loose items that were still sitting around, all just sort of found their way into one box. To this day, they're still in there, and it's sitting on a shelf. I didn't remember what was in the box so I took it down and sat on the floor to wander down memory lane. Whoever said cleaning closets can't be entertaining as well?

I found a stack of rhodie baby photos that I haven't looked at, since the day I popped them all into the box. One of them was this one here of Jessica (now 17) that was taken in the backyard. She loved the rhodie bush and would often take her little dollies and whatever else she was playing with, and sit underneath it to play.

She'd also try to hide under there when she was being called, and unless she stuck her head out from between the blooms, you'd never know she was there.

This was taken the summer before she started kindergarten. She still has the curly mop, but now instead of hiding under the rhodie bush, she hides in her room, and on the phone.



find the cool thing!Another picture I came across was this one. I had to laugh at the person in the picture, but showed it to Kevin and challenged him to find the one, really cool thing in it. He studied it a moment, turned toward better lighting, and said "hmmm". I couldn't believe he didn't spot it right away! I think maybe he thought it was a trick question, but no I didn't mean ME, I meant the gorgeous real wood paneling on the dash in front of me. This was one of the only pictures ever taken of my very pretty 1986 deep teal green Jaguar, and go figure, it was taken from the inside. It was also the only time ever, I let anyone else drive my dream car that I saved forever to buy, and that might explain the expression on my face. Sadly, life circumstances changed drastically for me at the time (this was about 12 years ago) and I could no longer afford the insurance or upkeep, and had to sell it after only owning it for a year. But oh, was it ever a PRETTY car.

In any event, the closet is almost done and that's a good thing. I'll be in there again next summer doing it all over again, I'm sure.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Memory Verse

If you're reading this blog from a feed, you wont notice the Bible verse in the header, For those of you who are actually seeing it, allow me to explain.

Between three different grade levels of homeschooling Bible courses, and four different Sunday school grades/levels at church, this family does a lot of Scripture Memory work. We do it for two reasons:

1. we love the Scriptures

2. we take Psalm 119:11 and Deut. 6:4-9 quite seriously, and literally.

The more we commit Scripture to memory the more our lives change. It's that simple. I have decided that each Monday I'm going to pick from one of our homeschool or Sunday school courses, a memory verses we're currently working on and share it at my blog for the week, in case you'd like to follow the same memory verse plan that we do.

Even if you don't opt to do that, it'll be there all week anyway.

This week's memory verse is from Samuel and Ruth's Sunday school class, where they are learning about the attributes of God, and how we should understand them. This verse comes from the lesson that God is infinitely above the need for any kind of counsel, and that the fullness of His attributes are well beyond our ability to understand, He has indeed given us all we need in His written word, to know Him and to see Him and understand Him as we should while in this natural body.

The way we memorize Scripture is pretty simple. At the beginning of the week I print out the verse for everyone in large print. We write the verse out, then each person recites it. If it's a long verse we break up the writing portion over several days, since we have some short people in this house that find writing long words in long verses, rather overwhelming all in one session. Then in the evening we recite the verse again usually at the beginning of family devotion time.

That's it. Once it's written out, we simply recite it once in the morning, and once again in the evening. By Friday, 99.99% of the time, everyone knows the verse from memory, including Ruth (who can't read or write yet). Last Thursday she piped up and offered Isaiah 53:3 (last week's verse) before anyone else had a shot at it. She didn't miss a beat, and she's only four. So if Ruth can do it, so can you!

I do find that for the kids, writing it out helps them a great deal, since I can ask them in the evening (if they're stumbling a little) "try to remember what you wrote out today, what word comes next?" That makes a big difference in how fast they memorize it.

So there you go - a little peek into what we do around here. It really works well for us, and even years later we recall verses we once memorized. Kevin tested me on this last night and I didn't do too bad with Psalm 1, and that was about 7 years ago that we tackled that one.





Sunday, September 16, 2007

Image

JordantopiaYesterday was daughter #4's 10th birthday. Technically, it's nearly impossible that Jordan is actually 10, since I only had her a few months ago (didn't I?), but there it is all the same.

Those who have read this blog for longer than a year, have already read all 7 of my kids "baby stories" so I won't repost Jordan's.

Jordan is my firstborn in a way, since she is the oldest of the "second family". She came along well after the idea I had (I should really just stop having ideas) that I was done having children. Not long after Jordan, came three more. Clearly I wasn't done. Clearly the Lord wasn't done blessing me with children.

Of all my kids, Jordan is most like me in that she tries to slip away and be alone quite a bit, likes to catch bugs and observe them without anyone bothering her (yes, I still do that), and likes it quiet rather than noisy and hectic. She also can't do math to save her life, just like me at the same age. It's coming along though, and just like for me once it "clicks" it'll just be a bad memory of math worksheets. She might even be like me in that once it does click, she'll discover that she really loves math and working with numbers just like I do.

I was looking at a picture a few days ago of a friend and his daughter. It struck me just how much the daughter looks like the father, and brought to mind a family I know where the boys all look like the mother. In our case with Samuel, everyone who sees him and knew Kevin as a boy, says he's the spitting image of Kevin. Once when my oldest Caryn was with me, I ran into some friends I hadn't seen since I was a teenager. Caryn was about the same age I was, the last time I saw these folks, and they just couldn't get over how much she looked like me, at that age. They called her "mini-Carla". Even some of her teachers in junior high (who were also my teachers) knew right away that she was my daughter. Funny thing is, I don't think we really look that much alike, but others see it. As for me, I look just like my mom, but to me, Caryn doesn't look like my mom at all. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

When I look at each of my kids, I see something of me in each of them. In some of them it's more obvious than with others. Like Jessica's turned up nose, or Caryn's giant smile & deep laugh lines, Jennifer's big feet (yes, we are in fact related to a hybrid breed of Amazonian/Sasquatch women, my mom reads my blog and she'll verify this fact). It's evident at least to me, that all my kids bear a resemblance to me in some way. In thinking about this it made me think of a verse of Scripture that used to be so confusing to me:


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

I'm not really sure why that was so confusing, other than the possibility that I was under false teaching at one time, for long enough that I questioned pretty much everything I thought I knew. Obviously we were not created physically to look like the Father, since God is Spirit and doesn't have a physical body. It's inwardly that we were created in His image - the abilities He gave us to think, reason, create, have compassion, desire justice, be nurturing, and to have an eternal soul.

Thinking along these lines got me to thinking about image in a variety of ways.

If you've read the news at all lately, or watched it on television, it's been impossible for you to miss the big to-do that was made over Britney Spears at the recent televised music awards. Much was made of her physical appearance, and much criticism leveled at the fact that she is "out of shape". Of course this comparison is to the trim, athletic shape she had as an up and coming performer at the ripe old age of 17. (Didn't we all look pretty good at 17??) Had she not been "gyrating in public wearing her underwear" as Libbie so aptly put it recently, none of us would have ever known what she looked like prior to having a couple of kids and putting on a couple of years, in the first place. Nevertheless, her image has been plastered all over the place for the last several years, and then made headlines once again after the award show.

If you've ever read the medical facts surround eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, you already know that body image is at the center of those physically devastating problems. Young women can become so obessesed with the image they present, and setting a standard for that image as rail thin, they brutalize their own health to get there. One celebrity that comes to mind that I dearly loved to listen to when I was younger, is Karen Carpenter. Her own body-image became such an obsession with her, that if my memory serves me well and media reports were accurate - it was her ravaged heart, caused by anorexia, that caused her death at such a young age.

Whether we're looking at our kids and using ourselves (or their other parent) as the standard by which we see an image in them, or whether we're looking at a celebrity that has "gone downhill" and using their former image as the standard by which we compare them, or seeing how anorexia is fueled by self-image (which is really just the sin of pride manifesting itself in the form of an eating disorder) we always have a standard for image that we go by.

Do you find yourself suddenly pushing 40, 50 or 60 and out of shape? (And if you thought I was dropping a hint to anyone, you'd be wrong, so there!) If so, there is an image in the back of your mind that is your standard or your goal to aim for to get back into shape. This works with home and cars and yards and various other possessions as well. We look at our own things and think "I'd like my (fill in the blank) to look or work more like this", and we're using a standard of image that we've seen elsewhere, that we see as better, smarter, faster, more effecient or somehow superior to the current state of things. Certainly this is not always a bad thing, and in many cases it can be a very good thing.

But what of the verse I posted up there? I don't know a single Christian that would disagree with it, but at the same time, when you look inward do you actually see that image? Do you see righteousness, holiness, compassion, justice, mercy, grace and forgiveness? When I look at that standard for image, God's standard, sometimes I see those things in me (and purely by His grace) but more often than not I do not see them and know full well how far short I really fall from that goal, as much as I can know and understand it with a fallen and corrupt mind. I suspect if I could really comprehend just how short I fall of this standard, I might be far more horrified than words can accurately express.

Theres all kinds of things in our lives that could stand some improvement, but the single most important thing is what is on the inside of us all, and how that image measures up to the image of God that we were all created in. Indeed man is a fallen being, but by grace and because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, it is our joy and should be our desire to work on that image, more than any other. That's the one that matters the most, and that's the one that people will be touched by, and remember above all else.

The Old Paths

Every once in a while, I get an email forward that I not only read, but really enjoy. This is one of them that I received recently from my mother-in-law:


THE OLD PATHS


Cursing was wicked;
Drinking was evil;
and divorce was unthinkable.

The flag was honored;
America was beautiful;
And God was welcome!

We read the Bible in public;
Prayed in school;
And preached from house to house
To be called an American was worth dying for;
To be called a Christian was worth living for;
To be called a traitor was a shame!

Sex was a personal word.
Homosexual was an unheard of word,
And abortion was an illegal word.

Preachers preached because they had a message;
And Christians rejoiced because they had the VICTORY!
Preachers preached from the Bible;
Singers sang from the heart;
And sinners turned to the Lord to be SAVED!

A new birth meant a new life;
Salvation meant a changed life;
Following Christ led to eternal life.

Being a preacher meant you proclaimed the word of God;
Being a deacon meant you would serve the Lord;
Being a Christian meant you would live for Jesus;
And being a sinner meant someone was praying for you!

Laws were based on the Bible;
Homes read the Bible;
And churches taught the Bible.

Preachers were more interested in new converts,
Than new clothes and new cars.
God was worshiped;
Christ was exalted;
and the Holy Spirit was respected.

Church was where you found Christians
on the Lord's day, rather than in the garden,
on the creek bank, on the golf course,
or being entertained somewhere else.

I still like the old paths the best !


"The Old Paths" was written by a retired minister who lives
In Tennessee.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Future Plans Today

IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

Yesterday Rebecca asked if you've planned ahead for your Homegoing, as it pertains to what hymns you'd like to have sung, and what Scripture reading you'd like to be pointed out. It's a great question and I do have some thoughts on this. I was intending to respond to it asap.

Then last night before I turned in for the night I decided to check my mail one more time and when I did I got the news from a family member that my cousin Johnny had been killed in an auto accident. Johnny was just 36 years old, and leaves behind three young children.

Its rather ironic in a way, that when we're young we generally don't give much thought to these things because we somehow asssume we've got plenty of time to put a plan together. I'm not really sure why most people do that, but that's the the way it is.

I'm going to answer Rebecca's questions here because my answers are long and I don't want to hijack her combox with my longwindedness:

Have you given any thought to what hymns you’d want included in your funeral or memorial service?

I have and I've changed the selection numerous times over the years. Right now the selection would include Abide With Me and When I Survey The Wonderous Cross.

What reasons do you have for choosing those hymns?

Part of the reason is that I can't sing either one of them without crying. The tears come because the words leave me undone when I sing about the goodness of God on such a person as me. If there is one message I want to leave in the hearts and minds of people as they might think of me at the end of my life, that's the message: the goodness of God on undeserving sinners.

What about funerals for your loved ones? What songs have been played or sung?

At my first husband's memorial service, there were several rather upbeat, contemporary praise songs that were sung, because he liked them. He wanted people to praise God at his memorial service. One of the hymns that was played was Crystal Lewis' rendition of Precious Lord. It's a beautiful hymn, beautifully sung by her but I have never been able to listen to that hymn since that day. For me this is a strange dilema because there is a profound sadness still attached to this hymn. I don't know if this is an oddity of my own quirky personality or if this is common with hymns and songs played at funerals.

And what about scripture? What scripture passages would you like to have read? What scripture passages have been read at the funerals of those close to you?

I haven't really settled on a particular passage or passages, but I do know I'd like Isaiah 55:11 to be read and expounded on, as well as a good ole fashioned gospel sermon preached. Is. 55:11 is what I consider to be my "life verse" or the one verse that has been pivotal in my life for many years. It brings me a great deal of comfort that no matter what, no matter the plans of man, the word of God will go exactly where He desires it, and do exactly as He intends it to do. There is absolutely nothing that can stop the will of God from being done, and since He is perfect, just, holy, merciful and always right in all things, this is a pretty amazing assurance. As for the gospel sermon I want preached, I really want a no-holds-barred "repent and believe" message to be sent. That's the one message that changes lives and gives people a hope that cannot be lost.

I will admit that more than likely, had I not gone through this with a spouse at such a young age, I probably would not have given a whole lot of serious thought to it. I recall the doctor telling us the day that he gave us the diagnosis "you will need to discuss right away, things that most people your age never give much thought to". The day we heard those words he was 28 and I was 26 and for the next 4.5 years those were things we did discuss and make plans for.

My cousin Johnny who passed away this week, was just 36 years old. I really didn't know him at all since he lived in Guam for many years and by the time he moved back to the states I was grown up and moved away. The last time I saw him we were both little kids. I have no idea what his life was like, nor what his spiritual condition was like. It's never too early, and you're never too young to take your life seriously and plan for day you leave this world.

__________________

In the city where my cousin Johnny was killed, the newspaper ran a story about the accident and in their online version they have a comment section. Due to the circumstances surrounding the accident, many of the people leaving comments are leaving the most bitter, angry and harassing type of garbage. Regardless of why Johnny is gone and the mistakes he made, he was my uncle's son, my cousins's little brother, the father of 3 kids and a member of a family that loved him, and that is hurting that he's gone. Seeing these comments (there are over 100 in the thread) is just revolting, but surely the evidence of the depravity in the hearts of men, with no compassion or mercy whatsoever. I would like to ask my readers to please pray for Johnny's kids, first and foremost but also his extended family, and the people leaving such horrible words at this newspaper site. I have decided not to post the link publicly but if anyone would like it to maybe minister a word of comfort to Johnny's family reading the newspaper site, please email me and I will give you the link.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sidebar Stuff

You may (or may not have) have noticed a couple of new items in my sidebars this week. I'd like to draw your attention to them, for no other reason than they are exceptionally cool.

Carla's Wish List This one here (located on the right sidebar), is all Kristina's fault, because she suggested it in the comments the other day. Apparently you can even put your mailing address on one of these dealies and have complete strangers buy you stuff and have it shipped to your front door. I'm not big on that plan, so my address is not included, but my wishes are. So there ya go, my wish list (for now, anyway).

Candy You Ate As A Kid This one here, located in the left sidebar, is just WAY too fun. If you're looking for a really unique gift idea this year, this one IS IT. Almost everyone loves candy, and almost everyone enjoys a trip down memory lane to childhood when life was innocent and we all... well... ate candy!

They have over 300 different kinds of candy, including sugar-free, a cool page where you can pack your own bag or pick from a decade assortment, and just all kinds of other neat stuff, like handwritten giftcards at no extra charge, gift certificates, and party favor bags. I'm telling you, this is one of the coolest gift idea sites I've ever come across. If you're shopping for that person who is impossible to shop for, or if you just want to surprise someone with an extremely fun and unique gift, this is it! The only drawback as far as online shopping goes, is that they don't ship to Canada. I was so impressed with this site, I opted in to their affiliate program. So click on through and check them out, and have fun!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's Sunday Afternoon - Have You Seen YOUR Church Deacons?

Okay so this is the part of the post where I say

"I'm going to link to a news item that will in all likelihood, make you go "ewwww!" when you read it".

So this is the warning part. Feel free to skip the article completely if you like, I wont repost anything here pertaining to the most ewwish aspect of this story, I promise.

There I was, minding my own business reading FOX news, and this headline jumped out at me:


A couple of things immediately came to mind. One, was the same thing I always think when I hear about violence associated with sports, as it pertains to fans: "okay that's just stupid". Now, let it be known that I love sports, love to play, am very competative and always have been. I get the whole "this is MY team" thing. It's fun, and it's harmless fun. Where it crosses the line from harmless fun to downright stupid, is when men & women go all spastic and engage in acts of violence to defend their team's name, or favorite player or whatever. When you're inflicting physical harm on purpose, onto another person, you've gone round the bend. More than that, it's a good possibility you are nothing but an embarassment to the very team (or at least many of the players & staff) you're going ballistic to "defend". In a nutshell, grow up and stop acting like the bully on the playground and enjoy a good competative sport for what it is, a GAME. Okay that was the first thought I had, but oh yes, there's more.

Second thought was: well duh, it's a bar. Sports fans in a bar aren't sitting around drinking coke, okay? Now my gpa used to visit with friends at a local tavern, and he always drank coffee, but folks like my gpa are the exception to the rule and we all know this. 9 out of 10 of them are in there just a boozin' it up getting tanked and acting more and more stupid with every elbow lift. Oh wait... they're not acting, this is real. The more beer or alcohol you drink, the more your common sense and propriety degenerates toward the level of a 3 year old cry baby who's already been diagnosed with every personality disorder known to man, and even a few they don't have a name for yet. And who isn't on his medications.

So the above combination is a sure-fire recipe for producing the kind of lunacy indicated by the headline. But wait, there's even more!

While reading the article, a few things quite stunningly lept clean off my flat screen at me. Here's just a snippet:

According to police, 32-year-old Texas fan Brian Christopher Thomas walked into Henry Hudson's Pub on June 17 wearing a Longhorns T-shirt and quickly became the focus of football "trash talk" from another regular, 53 year-old Oklahoma fan Allen Michael Beckett. Beckett, a 53-year-old church deacon, federal auditor and former Army combat veteran, has pleaded not guilty.

Okay. It's a pub, there's a regular in the pub, who (from witness accounts) began to trash talk in the presence of a fan of an opposing team. No big surprise there. Said regular-pub-patron and trash talker, and the man charged with a most repulsive act of violence towards another sports fan is... however.... a church deacon.

Now, can this get ANY worse? Oh yes, I think it can. Take a look on your calender and note what day June 17th was.

Yep, I was thinking the SAME thing.

Now to be fair, he's only been charged and hasn't been found guilty - and he also denies the assault. We also don't know if he really DID do this, or if he's genuinely repentant for it if he did, which would obviously be the thing to do/be. However, he was there, he's a regular, and this is what he's been charged with.

Welcome to church in 2007. Can I get a "gack"?

Calling all Grammar Experts

The other night during devotion, Kevin was reading and he pronounced Apollos in a way I’d never heard anyone pronounce it before (not that this would be a first for him and I, bearing in mind he's Canadian and I'm an American, we have these issues still, after nearly 10 years being married!). He pronounced the o in the second syllable of the word, like you’d pronounce a short u. I’ve always heard it pronounced and done so myself, with a long o.

Seeing as we’re both homeschool teachers, you’d think we’d have this all important grammar issue settled, but we don’t.

Yes, the dictionary says it’s ə-pŏl'ō but is that right? (Dictionaries do make mistakes, don't they?)

So, I’m leaving it with my brilliant readers to tell us which one of us, is pronouncing it correctly.

What say ye? Short ŭ as in cup, or long ō as in nose?

Store Stuff updated

Make a bold statement for God's glory!

The perfect back-to-school gift idea, complete with the Biblical answer (Genesis 1:26-27).

Available in all sizes & a wide variety of styles (mens, womens & kids) and colors.

The perfect shirt to wear to public school science class.

Since there was a bit of confusion on the graphic design for this one, it's been entirely redone. No, I am not an evolutionist, Kevin!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chocolate Memory Lane

Have you ever found yourself in the weird position of discussing a childhood memory with someone who has no recollection at all, of what you're talking about? Maybe it's more common with me than most other people since I have this weird memory and can recall details of things that most people can't. In any event...

Seven UpWhen I was a kid, we ate dinner at my Gma & Gpa's house every Wednesday night. On the way home, mom would often stop at a little store called The Little Giant. Just a little convenience store about halfway between our house and gma's house. Often, she'd ask "what kind of candy bars do you kids want?" before she'd run in for cokes & candy bars. (Keep in mind, this was back in the day when you could leave your kids in the car in a small town, while you ran into the store for 5 minutes). I asked for the same thing every time: "SEVEN UP!". No, not the drink... 7-up the drink was what we had when we were sick with the flu. I hated the drink, but the candy bar was incredible. It was a milk chocolate bar seperated into 7 sections, and each section was filled with a different filling, much like cream filled chocolates that come in a box, but this was all in one little bar.


That was my absolute favorite candy bar for the longest time... until the day I discovered Chunky bars. And Flicks. You just could not go to the movies without getting a tube of Flicks!

The strangest thing though, was that from time to time when the weird subject of "food you ate as a kid" would come up, not one person EVER remembered Seven Up bars. Not one, not EVER. I haven't mentioned it in years, but I began to wonder if I hadn't had a brain-spazz and the bar wasn't even called that at all. I even did a web search several years ago to see for myself if I could find it, but at the time there was nothing out there.


But then... tonight as I was looking for something completely different, THIS PAGE came up. I scrolled all the way to the bottom and read, and thought "no WAY!!".


I now know I have not suffered a brain-spazz. I feel so much better now.

Parallel Evidence

Its hard for me to believe (on the one hand) that the now infamous 9/11 was already 6 years ago. On the other hand, all I have to do is look at my son to remind me just how long ago it was, since he was just a baby when it happened.


I'm sure if you were to ask anyone at all over the age of 10 at the time, where they were and what they were doing that morning when the news broke, they'd be able to recall even the most insignificant detail about what was for most, just another ordinary day. No question at all, in our generation it was and remains the event that defines in many ways the way things are, and the way things are headed. It is impossible for anyone in North America to go back to the way things were before that tragic day in world history.


As for me, I was sitting in the kitchen feeding my baby son his breakfast, when the phone rang. My sister-in-law was at work, and heard the first reports over the radio and called us to simply say "turn on the news, NOW". The conversation she had with Kev was very short, but based on the way he answered her I knew it was bad - really bad. As he hung up he just said something to the affect of "Kim said turn on the news, right now". I couldn't see the tv very well from where I was sitting, but as I heard the first words I nearly froze to my chair. Getting up and walking to the living room just before the second plane hit, was like walking through waist deep mud, and about as surreal as that would also be. Then we watched, in complete disbelief, for hours and hours. We watched as the towers fell, and we wept and prayed along with millions of others, around the world. We watched the people running, and screaming, faces plastered black with soot and ash, streaked with tears and blood, and in more shock and anguish than most of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. We watched it all, unable to turn it off. Turning it off didn't make it go away, and wouldn't have undone it, and so I think somehow we just felt more comforted, in a strange way, knowing what was happening and being updated as things were happening. It was such a catastrophic event, it quite literally changed the lives of people who were hundreds and thousands of miles away, from ground zero.

As I thought about this, I couldn't help but see the obvious parallel with salvation. While I certainly don't want to 'spiritualize' world events and make them about the Christian faith, this one to me stands out so glaringly, I think attention ought to be drawn to it.

I was listening to a sermon online not to long ago where the speaker made the comment that while anyone can claim to be a Christian, the mark of a genuine believer is the obvious initial change in their life, and then on an ongoing basis. He used an analogy of himself being late for work one day and when he arrived he told a wild tale of being hit by a mack truck, picking himself up, dusting himself off and continuing along his way to work. Clearly the people in his office would see him for the liar he was, since getting run over by a mack truck would leave him flattened on the pavement and incapable of moving, let alone showing up to work. In the analogy he wanted to point out that in such a profound, and larger than life event, the evidence of it would be so obvious to everyone, that he wouldn't have to say anything at all, and people would know something big had happened to him. Exactly the way it should be, when someone proclaims "I'm a Christian".

The way that 9/11 made me think of how salvation changes a person (and how for some, saying "I'm a Christian" really doesn't mean much) is that while it was such a profound event, for so many people the profoundness of it is all but forgotten. For a moment in time, it caused the world to stop and think, and to stop and lament over evil in the world. Then... slowly but inevitably, people went on with their daily routines, went back to their same lifestyle, argued about petty things, made dental appointments, rented dvds for the weekend, and it was life as usual. For most of us that were not directly affected by 9/11, this is exactly what we did. It is exactly the same situation for so many who profess to be Christians.

"I believe the gospel!" they will say. When what they really mean is, they have heard the gospel and while they do not actively, and intellectually deny it, they also do not believe it with every ounce of their being, nor do they genuinely trust in it, for their eternal salvation. I read my Bible, I go to church, I pray, I do this and I do that. They'll tell you all the things they do that in their minds prove them to be a Christian. They might even be able to provide in depth detail about a religious or highly charged emotional experience they once had that even further, in their minds, proves that they are a Christian. But what of the aftermath of such a profound event that takes place in the life of someone who has been truly born from above? What about the ongoing evidence, the fruit of a lifestyle consistant with someone pressing toward heavenly things, and desiring to be more like Christ, and less like self? It's as if Jesus was good enough to be Lord for a moment, but to be Lord over lifestyle is another matter. Like the analogy of the man hit by a truck, you know the event never happened in the first place if there is absolutely no evidence of it, in the aftermath. In other words, it was a surface event and not an inward change. Just like the way we all went back to our daily routines after 9/11, folks that have a "moment in time" experience will also go right back to their same ole self, and there will be no evidence that they were ever changed to begin with.

Living a life consistant with the way the Bible describes Christlike character, is not easy. We all miss the mark, and some of us do it every day. Depending on the kind of day, it may happen throughout the day! It's just the way it is. This is not to excuse our sin but to realistically point out not only what it's really like to live a changed life, but that without trusting in Him, turning to Him, and finding our wisdom, strength and guidance in Him, we haven't really made Him Lord of our lives. Anyone can say they are a Christian, but a truthful reality of such a claim is put to the test when everything falls apart, or something fantastic happens. Who do we turn to at that moment? Do we say "praise be to God for all things!" in either situation, or do we leave Him out of the picture completely? What about when a sinful habit or lifestyle is mentioned? Do we deny it, defend it, attempt to justify it or maybe even change the subject or refuse to talk about it? Who is Lord over that? Does that area of our lives find itself exempt from our Christian profession, or are we to submit our entire lives, to Him? What of everyday, petty annoyances - how do we deal with those? Do we yield to the Holy Spirit and depend on His direction and conviction? (These are only a few examples of the ongoing evidence of change).

I don't want to come across as judgemental over other people's salvation, thats not at all what this is about. It's about the evidence that should be present when we profess something profound and life changing, such as being a Christian. If New Yorkers said "something astounding happened here on 9/11" but were unable to tell you where ground zero was, or show it to you first hand, you might be left wondering if they were all self-deceived. Yet we all know what happened, and many of you reading might even be from there, known people who were there, maybe known people who were injured or died that day. We know how lives were changed, and the very landscape of NY was changed because there is not only the initial evidence but ongoing evidence that something really did happen that morning.

Can the same be said for your Christianity?

Using myself as an example, I can tell you all that I had one of those profound emotional experiences at a fairly young age. I prayed a prayer, I wept, I confessed Jesus as Lord, I began attending church and I read my Bible. If asked, you better believe I would have said "I'm a Christian!". But was I? I can only say that the next 18 years of my life proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the religious experience in my life was not an inward change, but a surface event. It was real, and it was powerful, but it wasn't inward, and therefore whatever initial fruit it did produce slowly faded away and ceased to exist. Had that event been a genuine inward change, there would have been evidence of it from that day forward, as I would have grown in grace exactly as the Scriptures say we will. Yet, that did not happen, and had I been pressed to show the evidence of my Christianity, I wouldn't have been able to, because it didn't truly exist. When genuine inward change did take place 18 years later, not only was there a single, defining moment of a most profound event but there was also and has been each and every day, since then, evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life, and and continual growing in grace. I could have said (and did) back then that I was a Christian, but what I understood a Christian to be and what one really is, are two different things. I called myself one because I believed that if you prayed this way, and if you did this, and did that, and affirmed that you believed the gospel, and so on and so forth, then you were "saved". Further, since I certainly didn't identify with any other faith such as Hinduism or Islam, but raised in a Christian church, surely I was a Christian, right!? WRONG. Very wrong, if there is no evidence to back up the claim. A Christian in name only means as much as if you said you were a praying mantis, or a bowl of ice cream. You can say it all you want, but what makes it true is the life lived afterward, each and every day.

Today as we will all likely see at least some kind of media coverage of ground zero in NY, we'll all see hard evidence to prove something profound happened there, that radically changed lives forever. As we will also likely hear people talking about that day and what has happened in their own lives afterwards, we'll hear about ongoing change, and how that one event shaped their lives ever since.

May we each look at the landscape of our own lives, and see if the same can said of our Christian faith.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Christmas/Birthday Wishlist

Dear Family Members that read my blog...

You all know me. You know what I like, what I use, what I don't like, what I will never use, and what gets stuffed in box in the closet. You know what I wear, what I would never wear in a million years, and all that good stuff about those you shop for.

With my birthday only 3 months and 2 days away (early shoppers are smart shoppers, remember this!) and then Christmas only 13 days after that, I thought it might be prudent to share with you my wish list. For my birthday you all get me the same thing every year and I love those things and don't want you to stop doing that. Soon my miniature Christmas village will be so huge, we'll have to add a new room for it. It's pretty close to being there now.

But there's something this year that I really really really (can I add one more really? Really??) want, and desperately need. I'm telling you all, it will change everything! I'll be happy & chipper all the day long, I'll skip through the house like what's her face in The Sound of Music, and while preparing a meal I might even let the kids in the kitchen. Okay that might be pushing things since my kitchen is my refuge at meal preparation time... but it's entirely possible since this 1 item will seriously change the mom/wife/sister/daughter you all know me to be, for the better! One of you will have to design a "new and improved!" t-shirt for me, I just know it.



Carla's New Happy Feet Footwear?!?Okay, enough grovelling already. Here's what I want. See that? It's a pair of POLYPROPYLENE THERMAL INSULATED HUNTING SOCKS. No, I did not make that up. I wouldn't even know where to begin to make up Polly's Propane socks, I just know they're supposed to keep your tootsies nice and toasty. Come on now, you all know how I freeze half to death in this frozen Canadian tundra (or the game room, or kitchen) and how I've been saying for years, that this is what I need. I would be THE happiest gift recipient you've ever shopped for, if you all bought me a pair. I'm thinking, if I had 4-5 pairs of these, I'd be good to go from about... hmm... NOW, through May.


So there ya have it. This is all I want. Polly's Propane socks. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out what a cheerful person I really am, with warm feet. It's really a win/win here, plus they're a cheap gift. Everyone will be happy.

That is all. Carry on...

(today's post brought to you by a high of COLD and by feet so cold all feeling in the toes, has left the building...)