Sunday, March 30, 2003

Visiting Another Church

Author:  Susan L. Prince

As a trumpet player in a brass ensemble, I am invited to play at church services now and then. I love to play and will often accept the invitation and join the worship service. Today was one such day.

I hesitate going to other worship services because when I am blessed to have a day off of work, I'd rather spend it worshipping with my family at Northbrook. I took the opportunity though and really observed what was going on around me at the church I visited today.

First thing I noticed is that the average age of the congregation was at least 60. There were maybe 70 attendees and the "choir" consisted of 4 elderly ladies who were making a "joyful noise unto the Lord". As you can imagine, the prayer list in an older congregation has a tendency to get quite long. Oh boy!

Well, it is NOT my style of worship service, but worship is a heart thing. While I may not be moved into worship here (mainly because I object to most music if it wasn't written after 1990, in this case, 1900...LOL), I'm sure that the church members were there to worship and hear a word from God, so I listened and watched. I know one women was surely enjoying the hymns! WHEW! I can use her to support my theory that God is tone deaf!

We played a piece after each hymn and then we heard a reading from the Word. During the reading of the gospel I took out my Bible and started reading John 3 along with the pastor who read aloud. I didn't realize it until I looked up at the congregation at one point, that I was the only one in the whole church who had a Bible with them. What's wrong with this picture?

Then came the sermon. GREAT MESSAGE from the pastor! I thoroughly enjoyed what he was saying! YES YES YES! Not a firey type style of delivery or anything, it was a simple message on how God calls us and the scripture was John 3. He really had some interesting insights about Nicodemus having a "midlife crisis" and wanting to do everything himself...but why did he need to come to Jesus. I was really getting a lot from the message because it was so right! It was the gospel...FLAT OUT! GOD calls US! He opens our eyes! We don't know when or where it will happen, that blessed moment that the Holy Spirit enters our hearts. We can prepare for it. We can pray for it. But, we can't make it happen! We don't know when that moment will be. That is ALL in GODs hands! OHHHHHH, it was such a great message.

Yet, as I looked out at the congregation I noticed something. Eyes were empty. Faces were expressionless. My heart hurt for these people. They were obviously missing something. Now, this was the majority of what I saw. This does not represent everyone there. A few very happy souls greeted us and welcomed us to their church. We were invited to stay for pot luck dinner after the service, and I am sure the Holy Spirit did stir in the hearts of a few there...I was hurting for those that missed the message. I was praying that God would open their eyes and open their hearts to hear Him.

On my way out to my car I passed a couple outside the church doors on a smoke break. Can they NOT smoke for an hour or two? I don't get that. It's a peeve. I don't think people EVER need to smoke on the grounds of any church.

So, my experience made me thankful for my church. It made me thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of all it made me thankful that God called me...ME! And He blessed me with ears to hear His call.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

When I Got Saved Once

Author: Susan L. Prince

Today I put the new Plumb CD in the player at work. (BTW the new Plumb CD is excellent! I am really enjoying it!) I thought that one of my employees would enjoy it. I am always playing Christian music in my store trying to sell it and also just trying to play some edifying music so I don't have to listen to a lot of the degrading and bad secular music out there. I wonder sometimes why lightning doesn't strike my CD player, having all that evil stuff in there and throwing some Godly music in the mix...I'm always waiting for sparks to fly.

My employee is very liberal. She doesn't claim any religious foundation and she is always reading something. She has read much of the bible, and her background I believe is jewish. She reads many books on religions, I think because she is searching. I really don't know a lot about her, except that she is gay. Very outspoken about it too. She is a great person in need of a savior and she has stated that this is one place where she has been among Christians and hasn't been treated poorly because of her sexual orientation.

Anyhow, when the Plumb song came on, Danielle said "who's this?". I said Plumb. She stated "Oh yeah, they gave me this CD for when I got saved once."
Once? What does that mean? I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I asked "once?" and she affirmed "once."


Friday, March 28, 2003

A God Thing?

Author: Susan L. Prince

Last year I had an employee that I really had to come down hard on and counsel. She started out as an excellent employee and was for a couple years, then suddenly her performance dropped off. I learned about some personal problems she was having at home and thought that her problems at work probably stemmed from whatever was going on in her personal life. I am the manager and I have a store to run, so I had to counsel her and eventually during one counselling session Melissa got up and walked out. She said "I'm leaving and I am not coming back." She didn't come back.

Until today. Melissa came into the store today and greeted me with a big hug. The first thing I noticed is that she was very pregnant. Hmmmmmmmm...?

Since that day she left I have occassionally lifted her up in prayer and wondered what she was doing and hoping she was getting her life together. We talked and talked today and I learned that indeed her trouble was from hormones and her boyfriend who struggles with alcoholism. I knew it was not a good situation and I told her that I heard she had moved back to Chattanooga. She told me she did, but she and Jeff needed time apart so they took it, and all the while she was dealing with her pregnancy. She said it's been crazy..."but fun!" She looks so happy. I asked about Jeff and she said they are both working on their relationship. I asked specifically if Jeff is getting help with his issues and was told that he was getting counselling from a Christian counsellor. HALLELUJA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I said "answered prayer".

Melissa admitted that she was bringing her problems to work and that she knew I knew something was up. I told her I often thought of her and how she was doing. I had felt bad that things in the "end" were not good and I was so glad she stopped by today. It was really cool to know that she is working hard on her relationship with Jeff and that he is getting Christian counselling. They do plan to marry. So, no hard feelings and it really feels good. God is good.

She'll bring the baby by she said and hopefully I will start to work on her again about getting to church! Say a little prayer for Melissa and Jeff today...for their salvation and that they are able to work out all their relationship difficulties and bring their baby into a healthy and well-functioning home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Family Talk Time

Author: Susan L. Prince

At church tonight we had "family talk time". We do this every now and then to talk about where our church is, where God is moving us, and other important issues. It is a night of communication, and fun, and information. It is a time for all members to voice concerns and work together for solutions and work together for what God's will is for Northbrook. Tonight we also did something unusual.

The hundred or so who came out for the talk witnessed step one of renovations to the kitchen area. We all were asked to get up from our chairs and move over to where the double doors lead into the hallway. Suddenly there was a loud sound in the room across the hall. It was a saw! One member cut out the "serving window". Now there is a big hole in the hallway that will eventually be our "serving window" from the kitchen. Paul, one of our full time pastor's, wanted to give us a "starting point" to launch from, some motivation. I LOVED IT! So, it has started. The renovation and growth of the Northbrook community. God's community at Northbrook Church.
God has been bringing so many talented and gifted people to Northbrook. It is awesome to watch. Everytime someone new comes in through the door I think to myself "I wonder what God will use him/her for here?". It is so awesome to know God is here, and working so big at our church. It is so exciting and I am anxious to see what all He is up to. I know it's something great!

Friday, March 21, 2003

Eating and Stinking

Author: Katie

Why can't I go out to eat without coming home congested and smelly? It's not bad food or body odor. It's cigarette smoke! I have two favorite resturaunts that I frequent for breakfast. I love the food and service. That's why I continue to give them my business. However, I don't eat at one of the places as much as the other because it doesn't have a no smoking section (not that it helps much to have one, but it does make it easier to breathe). I get up, take a shower, fix my hair, put on make-up and I go out to eat. I sit in the hazy resturaunt wondering if I should stay. As I wait for my food, I begin to smell and taste it. It's not the food I smell and taste. It's cigarette smoke. Soon, I begin to develop a headache. I manage to get through my meal and make a quick exit. When I get home, I still smell it! My head still hurts from polluted sinuses and the coughing begins. If I don' t take another shower, I have to smell and feel this way all day. I go to church and smell like smoke. That's okay though. Chances are, some of the non -smokers at church have eaten out that day and they smell bad too! Should I take comfort in that?

Anyhow, I used to be a smoker. I used to make people suffer like this. I used to go around smelling like they do. I have a relative thatl smokes and one day I commented to her, "I wonder if my breath smelled like that when I smoked." She replied, "Yes, it did." I am so glad I quit! But, now I stull run a risk of getting lung cancer because of all the second hand smoke and I recently heard on the news that second hand smoke is suspected for causing tooth decay. Yep. Apparantly, some experiments and studies have been done and the results were that children raised in homes where smokers lived, had a higher number of cavities. Who knows?

I understand that quitting is so difficult that some people would rather die than quit....and some do. That is a choice they make. I chose to quit. Yet I risk getting the same diseases that smokers risk because of those who don't care about the people they smoke around. They only care about getting their 'fix'.

Whether or not tests and studies are accurate, I know one thing for sure. SECOND HAND SMOKE STINKS! IT MAKES ME STINK! IT MAKES ME FEEL SICK! NOBODY SHOULD BE FORCED TO SMOKE! SMOKING SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN CLOSED IN PUBLIC PLACES! I should not have to suffer the consequences of somebody else's bad habit. I do not dislike people who smoke. I have close friends and relatives (like my parents) who smoke. I love them! However, I don't appreciate people who smoke without consideration to others who desire to breathe fresh air. I think it is very selfish for inconsiderate smokers to cause other people to suffer the consequences of their nasty habit. Talk about rights! Should smokers have the right to smoke where ever they want around whoever they want? Should non smokers have to step outside in order for smokers to have a cigarette? Think of how that would affect the retail business, hospitals........airplanes! Many places have made it illegal for people to smoke in public buildings. I applaud you! Much of the state I live in, however is a bit behind the rest of the world (surprise surprise). I think the fact that it is a major tobacco producing region may have something to do with it, who knows?

Regardless, I have a right to choose not to smoke. I chose that 12 years ago. Yet, this right is taken from me when I am forced to breathe smoke against my will simply because I want to eat out on occasion. What's wrong with this picture????

There, I finally spoke my peace. I've been wanting to do this for a long time.

(I'm in trouble again aren't I?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Women of Faith 2003

Katie and I attended the Women of Faith Conference in Memphis last weekend. As expected it was awesome! Not only were the speakers and musicians so great, the fellowship with our sisters in Christ was an added bonus! A good number of women from our church attended and it was so fun to worship with all of them and to just hang out together! I can't wait until the next conference in August 2003 when the Women of Faith will come to Nashville! Woohooo!

This year we attended the "Hope for a Woman's Heart" pre-conference and it was presented by Patsy Clairmont and Kathy Troccoli. It was so wonderful to hear Kathy Troccoli share more of her testimony (I've heard Troccoli 4 times in the past year!) with everyone and it was so encouraging. Patsy was challenging us to think of others more than ourselves and the one main point that stuck out to me was that maybe that "difficult person" in your life is there for God to use as you grow in Him. Patsy reminded us to be sure to tell those we love how important they are to us. Sometimes we assume that our loved ones "just know" we love them, but it is of utmost important that we tell them. We sang together, laughed together and worshipped together. It was a very enjoyable day and I am thankful to Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church for providing their space to us for that day!

The Conference itself began Friday night and we heard from Shiela Walsh and Babby Mason provided some music for us. As usual the Women of Faith Integrity Singers were great and I really enjoyed their music. Nicole Johnson...WOW THAT WOMAN IS GIFTED...always gives us things to ponder about God's grace in her creative presentations.

Then came Saturday. The first speaker we heard from was Patsy Clairmont. She is only 5 feet tall, very petite, but VERY SPUNKY, PLAYFUL AND FUNNY! That woman had me roaring with her story about her friend having a gift of hospitality and sacrificing her own comfort for a relative that brought along their pet chicken. Yes, I said pet...chicken. in beak and feathers, as a pet. You had to be there...IT WAS HILARIOUS! LOLOLOLOL If you get the chance, GO! If only to see Patsy Clairmont!

We heard about God's faithfulness from Thelma Wells who had the 98% caucasion audience singing "Great is Thy Faithfullness" "black". Really! She said "sing it black!" We tried, but it just doesn't come out black! LOL Thelma shared that even when we doubt and aren't full of faith, that God is forever faithful to us.

We were treated to a guest speaker in Jennifer O'Neill, actress, I understand who is best known for her role in "The Summer of '42". I didn't know of her, but she has an AWESOME testimony about God's faithfullness in her life. She had so much to share and as I had heard at the pre-conference, confirmed that God will take you right where you are. One woman on Friday shared "God will take you right where you are, and I was stoned!" That cracked me up and stuck with me, but it just shows how faithful He really is!

Marilyn Meberg shared a story about mint tea and making the best of any bad situation. Her first opportunity she had to be a hostess in the house she and her husband bought years and years ago she decided to use the mint that was laced throughout the garden in her backyard. She made mint tea. Ignoring the directions she proceeded to add 22 leaves to the tea, when she should have added only 2. She was going for the pretty green color it was making in the tea. Never having tasted it, when the first "victim" did, he spewed it out of his mouth immediately. At first she was quite offended...I mean "how rude!", but then was able to laugh about it and as each new guest came to the party, they would see people standing around with glasses of mint tea as part of the "joke". Each and everyone who tried it spewed forth! LOL It was kind of an "initiation" thing after that I guess. Anyway, Marilyn shared about the heartaches in life and how we can grow through those messes in life. We can see humor and find healing.

Luci Swindoll told of her adventures. She likes to travel and has set foot on each continent. She also likes to take a lot of pictures, some of which she shared with us from her trip to Antartica. She was on board ship hoping to see a whale, in fact she said she prayed to God to send her a whale so she could get a good picture. As they came near to an iceberg, she saw a penguin. Feeling disappointed that she wasn't getting a whale, she thought to reach for her camera and as a consolation get a picture of the penguin who was standing there looking at her with this "hey! what's wrong with taking a picture of me?! Here I am!" and when she looked up there was a whole family of penguins to behold! Luci told us not to "miss the penguins looking for the whale", to enjoy the simple things that come our way and not miss them because we are waiting for something bigger and better. Luci had some great words of wisdom to share with us and I took it all to heart.

The highlight of the conference for me was Cece Winans. I am not too familiar with her music. I do own 3 CDs from her and I love that song "Alabaster Box". That song when I first heard it brought tears to my eyes and I rushed home to share it with Katie a few years ago. I haven't listened to it in a long time so I was anticipating her performing it live. I was speechless.

That woman brought that arena to a place of worship like none I have experienced. It was like she herself went to the throne of God and brought us in with her. She glorified God that day with song. God blessed me big through her voice and her song too! She, oh, I still have no words. It was an experience I can not describe.

Artist: CeCe Winans
Album: Alabaster Box
Title: Alabaster Box listen

The room grew still
As she made her way to Jesus
She stumbled through the tears
That make her blind
She felt such pain
Some spoke in anger
Heard folks whisper
There's no place here for her kind
Still on she came
Through the shame that flushed her face
Until at last she knelt before his feet
And though she spoke no words
Everything she said was heard
As she poured her love for the master
From her box of Alabaster

And I've come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary's Alabaster Box
Don't be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren't there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don't know the cost
Of the oil in my Alabaster box

I can't forget the way life used to be
I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound
And I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul with the wonder of His touch
So now I'm giving back to Him
All the praise He's worthy of
I've been forgiven and that's why
I love Him so much


Well Said!

The following came from the "Insight" page, or letter to the editor page, of my local newspaper. Ivy Scarborough is a well-respected citizen/lawyer/politcal expert/writer/commentator in this area. I have met him when he was a humble customer in my store and my roommate Katie met him when he was willing to offer her some free legal advice during her divorce a few years ago. He is a man of great integrity and his words come from much education and experience.

President's address shows decisive action in face of world's failure to perceive dangerous realities

Comments by Ivy Scarborough

International affairs and terrorism analyst Ivy Scarborough said Friday that the "President's address to the nation represented decisive action in the face of the world community's failure to fully perceive - much less address - the dangerous realities of our time."

Scarborough, who has traveled in eight war zones, including Afghanistan with the mujahadeen in 1985 during the war with the Soviet Union, had predicted in print and TV commentaries in the 1990's a "major and potentially catastrophic terrorist attack on the US in the foreseeable future".

He has viewed the response to the threat of Saddam Hussein's regime as another illustration of "a world largely out of touch with the reality of our times." "Though", Scarborough says, "there are historical precedents to nations and even whole civilizations losing touch with the grave realities of their time, we are faced with an unprecedented set of historical circumstances in view of the gravity of the threat in the 21st Century."

"Most of humanity and most political leaders of the world do not fully grasp the danger much less the great risks and hard choices that must now be assumed in order to face it."

"My concern has been that we may be faced with a phenomenon seen many times before in history: Major and perhaps repeated trauma inflicted on a nation or nations before there is full recognition of a dangerous reality. In view of the weapons now available that trauma will be beyond anything previously seen. Sept. 11 should have made this apparent, but there is an abiding reluctance to surrender the comforting assumptions of the past."

"The President has demonstrated courage. Regardless of one's views of his policies, there can be no doubt that he is sincere in his convictions and prepared to sacrifice his political future in upholding them."

"His resolve is formidable and was demonstrated in a less obvious way by his warning about war crime prosecutions. His caution that assertions by any Iraqi that he was 'only following orders' - known in international law as the Nuremberg defense - would not shield anyone from punishment, further illustrated how determined he is."

Scarborough is an attorney from Jackson, TN, a former adjunct professor of international studies at Union University, and a writer and TV/radio commentator on a variety of current issues, including terrorism, foreign affairs, national defense policy and American government. He has done extensive reporting and observation in various countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Israel, Russia, Georgia, Somalia, Sudan and Bosnia. He is used by the military as a lecturer on topics such as the Afghan war, international crises, and terrorism. Immediately after Sept. 11, 2001 he conducted briefings for the TN National Guard officer corps.

For several years prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Scarborough had predicted in newspaper and television commentaries that there would be a major and potentially catastrophic terrorist attack against the United States. Mr. Scarborough has lectured for the military at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, California and Ft. Benjamin Harrison on the Soviet - Afghan war and international crises.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Who Wears Short Shorts?

Author: Katie

Today I took my daughter to Wal-Mart because she needed some shorts. We searched for what seemed like hours to find a pair suitable for school. My stomach turned as I sifted through endless racks looking for something that wasn't skimpy. What is really sad about the whole situation is that I was looking IN THE CHILDREN'S SECTION!!!!!!!! It appears that the latest sexy fashions are focused toward children 10 and under!!!! What is wrong with this picture??? The shorts were all wayyyyyyy below the belly button on the waist line or should I say hip line. In fact the waist line and the bottom of the shorts were just about in the same place!! I talked to the woman who was putting out the clothes and she (a christian lady) said that it's only going to get much worse. The tops are all stringy, revealing, low neckline, tight bra type tops. Tight and skimpy......that's the fashion for today's children. Ohhhhhhh and there are things on the buttocks of the jeans as well, which cause a person to focus their eyes on that part of the child's body. There were these pants that were so cute on my daughter. Then she turned around and there is a huge star on her butt! Come on! Where is the world going? This is sick!!! How can we say that the child pornography has to stop when we're promoting it at the local department stores? What is a person supposed to do? Mary Kate and Ashley need to start putting their clothes out to an older crowd. They aren't children anymore and their clothing line should NOT be sold in the children's section anymore either. In fact, it shouldn't be sold to anybody under age 18 without the consent of a parent! I'm not saying that all of their clothes are bad. They do have some cute clothes but, most of them are not things I would want my child wearing.

I can't say that I'd think much of any mother that would allow her child to wear these things. A parent is supposed to protect thier child, not expose them. I'm so frustrated. I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do but pray that the trends will change. Then again, like the woman at Wal-Mart said, they will probably only get worse.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Who's Gonna Read to Me?

Every night Katie's kids want to have their devotional read to them. Every night it's the same get their showers, head to bed, and then we inevitably hear Justin shout "Who's gonna read to me?". Every night Katie's kids want to have their devotional read to them. It is actually a motivator for them to get to bed by 9:00 pm, if they aren't in bed on time, they won't get read to. Katie feels blessed that her children love to hear God's Word before they go to sleep, so much so that they make sure to get to bed on time every night...well...almost every night.

Tonight I got an extra special blessing at reading time. I have been sick with a very sore throat which makes talking difficult and painful. Instead of hearing Justin ask "Who's gonna read to me?", he came out to me with his devotional and asked if he could read it to me. I thought that was pretty cool, so we went in to the living room and he read to me. The lesson was a God saying "no!" and how we can always trust His answer. I thought it was awesome that Justin read to me. Isn't that sweet?

As I got up, he said "wait, we forgot to pray!", so I knelt down beside the couch and held Justin's hand in mine and prayed with him. I thanked God for blessing my life by putting Justin in it.

I also pray that God won't let me forget how much I am loved.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Response to a Comment

Author: Katie

I am writing this blog to respond to a comment made on the blog titled "Divided We Fall".

hard to tell if you are being facetious or serious. be that as it may, the words "under God" were not added until 1954, when we had an all-republiccan majority in congress and the white house. so the question is, was our republic always under God or wasn't it? so what then does it matter if we have the words in the pledge? just thinking out loud ...

I guess I was probably thinking out loud myself. VERY LOUD. It's not important as to whether the words "Under God" are in the pledge or not. What is important is that this nation has been very blessed by God. So, the phrase "Under God" was only added in 1954. This is the question I am led to ask now: What was it that motivated the republican majority to add that phrase to the pledge? I will have to do some research in order to answer that question. So, when I finish all my homework from school, I'll attempt to do that. Unfortunately, it may take several years before I finish my homework!

However, my opinion, for what it's worth, is that we have always been under God. I believe that God has blessed this nation from its birth because America was searched out and established for His glory. So, since the comment gives credit to the republican party for this additon, I believe they added that phrase to the pledge because it wanted to publicly recognize God for the blessings He has given us a nation. The prosperity of this nation can only be credited to God alone. For without Him we can do nothing. As time goes on our nation is moving further and further from the life that God desires us to live. We are pushing Him out. When He is pushed far away enough, we will no longer fall under his blessing. We will just fall. That's my opinion. It doesn't matter how big our guns are or how many we have. Without God we have nothing. We are powerless. In some ways, yes I was being facetious but I was also trying to send a message. I praise God for the republican majority that voted Him in! I pray for those who are slowly voting Him out.

One More Thing...


Church is Getting Expensive

Author: Katie

I remember when I was young. Christians attended church to hear the word of God taught. There were family outings at the park and tithes paid for materials for Sunday school. That was sufficient. Now, in a world of "No matter how much you have, you always want more, bigger, better", I am somewhat convicted. Has this philosophy of life penetrated into the church? The service isn't enough anymore. Even with all the talent and drama and music of today that is so awesome, we still want more. Now we go to seminars and conferences that are becoming more and more popular. Christian concerts are no longer taking up love offerings. They are charging more money for tickets than many secular music shows. I know.....they have to make a living. It's expensive to put on the big shows and seminars. I must say, I have attended and will continue to attend these things as long as God makes a way for me to do it. I do grow in many ways and I definately benefit from it. I think the biggest reason I attend these events is not actually the event itself. It's the fellowship. It's spending the night in a hotel and traveling with my sisters in Christ. I love, getting to know them on a more personal level. I love it. I'm not here to bash anybody or criticize. I'm just trying to sort some things on my heart.

For example:

This month Sue and I are attending a conference. In order to attend, the cost (excluding hotel and all but two lunches) is $99.00 per person. This is for 3 sessions over two days. At church today, in the bulletin, we were informed that we had to pay the deposit of $40.00 for the youth trip and the remainder of the $246.00 can be paid later. Then, I was approached by the interpretive movement instructor that I would need to purchase ballet slippers, tights and leotards in order for my daughter to be a part of the Easter presentation. This should come to at least $50.00.

Today, there was an awesome sermon. I was so blessed by it and the praise and worship. I felt renewed, refreshed and stronger against the financial blows I have been receiving this year. Then, I read the bulletin, was approached about the things my daughter would need, and thought about how much money Sue and I have been asked to spend the past two weeks. Not including hotel costs for next weekend, the total comes to approximately $500.00. I must say, it put a damper on my spirit before I even walked out the door. I wanted to cry. Not because of the expense, but because I am wondering.......Is this really necessary? Jesus asks us to be like Him. He had nothing but the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet. People followed him everywhere and he didn't charge one dime. He offered himself freely to all who came. He gave His love, His time, His attention, His loving dicipline, His knowledge, His wisdom, His strength, His body, His blood, His life. He gave. GAVE! He gave it all freely and for freedom's sake.

So, do we need all this entertainment? If so, I have to wonder why? Sure it's fun. I can see this from both sides. I think it's wonderful that we have the awesome music that we have now. I love it! I love going to the concerts and I love the fulfillment that comes from conferences. It was at a Beth Moore conference where I recieved the calling to minister to women and to attend school for this. I am in college now because of that conference. I can see that lives are changed. I praise God that I am so blessed that somebody paid for me to go. She knew God wanted me there. He will always make a way for His will to be done. It can be really fun in the process.

When I approached a precious friend today in regards to the youth trip, I asked, "Do you really think it's necessary that the kids go on a trip that is so expensive? Shouldn't there be some conviction?" She lovingly told me that she can understand my concern but that all the churches are doing it now and it is a very fulfilling experience in many ways. She said it is in-depth Bible study, and it also helps build relationships amongst the youth. She also made the point that it can be very expensive to put up the kids and feed them for a week. I can see her point. Okay, so lets all chip in, rent a couple cabins nearby in a campground, bring our own food and relax in the midst of God's creation. That would reduce the cost wouldn't it? But, would the kids be satisfied with that? If not, then why not? Is it because all the other churches are doing bigger and better things? Oh, okay so then it's right isn't it? Or is it?

Has the church become like the world in the aspect of not being content to gather in God's house and worship God without all the added expense of ballet costumes and fancy choir robes? Can we not learn and grow in our relationships to God and one another without spending thousands of dollars every year on conferences and materials? I am not knocking what is being done. I'm just trying to see things from All perspectives including and especially Gods. Are we a part of the body because we truly seek to please Him and fulfill His purpose in our lives? Or are we just part of the body because it's fun? I love that my kids anticipate going to church. But, if the trips stopped and we went back to studying the word of God with nothing but the Holy Spirt, our church leaders, praise, worship and the Bible would everybody quit meeting? Do these trips cause us to focus or keep us from focusing on the right things?

Okay, I'm about to digress. Each week I meet in the homes of my family SaLT members. We meet together for study, reflection, and fellowship. The homes we meet in are BEAUTIFUL! I sit there and think about how I would love to have a beautiful home like this one or that one. I even get envious sometimes and have to call on God to put things back into perspective. I would love to have a beautiful home, a wonderful husband and a family gathering around the fireplace to sing Christmas carols near the grand piano at Christmas every year. Most anybody would. But, at the same time, there is this other side of me (Maybe I'm schitzophrenic) that feels compelled to give up material possessions in order to be better focused and able to do the will of God. This side of me wants to forget "things" and focus on the calling God has given me. I wonder if having a house would just be a distraction from my call. It would be something that would give me roots and plant me in one place. I would have to have a steady job to pay the bills and It would take away the freedom that I would have (after my kids are grown) to pick up and go wherever God leads.

I am by no means saying that it is wrong for people to have a nice home and material possesions. God lays different convictions on different hearts and I believe it all depends on what His calling is for their life. I'm not saying that it is wrong for the youth to go on this trip. I just can't help but wonder the kind of message that is sent to the poor and needy of the world when they don't know where their next meal is coming from and they learn of the money that is being spent by the church for elaborate youth camps and trips. Aren't we called to minister to the poor and needy? This doesn't just mean baskets at Christmas time! Wouldn't this money be better spent on a missionary trip? I don't know. I am not complaining at all. I just want to know if we are dong the right thing. Just because it's what everybody else is doing doesn't make it right. I have struggled with this for years. I just pray that God will give me an answer. I pray that He will once and for all grant me peace with my convictions. Should I continue to stand against these activities or should I accept them as part of His plan that I can't see?

Well, I'be babbled on long enough. I wish I could say that I feel better now. I guess it's time to pray again.

I want to be like the lillies of the field.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Divided We Fall

Author: Katie

Divided we fall.....that's what happens...especially when we fail to recognize ourselves as "One Nation Under God". And, if America decides to remove God from our pledge.........we might as well remove "To the republic for which it stands" (it no longer will represent the Christian public) and we will no longer be a nation who is "Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All." You know, maybe we can just not have a flag. Ohhhhhh and Maybe we could have Rosanne or Ozzy write us a new national anthem while we are at it!!!!!! C'mon America! Where is your backbone? Christians.......where are our picket signs and marches? Why aren't we on the front page of the newspaper?

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Does God Break Promises?

I say no, God does not break his promises. Then why am I confused when I read Numbers 14?

30 "Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (NIV)

30 "Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun." (KJV)

29 "You will all die here in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, none of you who are twenty years old or older and were counted in the census 30will enter the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (NLT)

30 "Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun." (NASB)

In any translation it sure looks to me like God says "I swore good things for you, but now I'm telling you that those good things aren't coming...except of course for those lucky dogs Caleb and Joshua" (lucky = obediant/faithful in the Susan L. Prince translation)

This has been bothering me...what exactly did God swear on oath to the Isrealites? and did He actually break His promise? So I researched:

Genesis 17
8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." 9 Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised." and then we go through all the circumcision stuff blah blah blah...

Ok, so that was the covenant. There's more to it, but for now I will simply say that God promised to multiply Abrahams family and that his name would be known and be given a great nation.

Was the convenant unconditional? Hmmmmm, I think that when God makes a promise, that it really is unconditional. God will keep his promise whether or not the other party keeps theirs. In the end, God will keep His covenant, but it doesn't mean the other party will enjoy it. I think that could be what happened here, in Numbers 14. The Isrealites complained so much about being in the desert and not really appreciating the fact that God freed them from slavery. They wished that their misery in the desert would just end and they could die. I figure God gave them what they wanted! Still, Abrahams line made it into the land of Canaan, but that ungrateful generation didn't get to enjoy it. What a shame.

When God said "Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home," I think that he wasn't necessarily saying "your" as in all of you here and now, but possibly he means those people. His people, as a whole, not as individuals. He also did give them responsibility when in the convenant He said "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come"

Did God break His promise? No. Eventually those who were faithful and obediant made it there.

God has promised things for me too. I want to experience those things.

Lord, please help me to have faith and trust in you. Let me yield to your Spirit and be obediant so I can experience the fullness of your glory and the life you wish to give me! Woooooohooooooooooooo!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO LIVE IN THE LAND OF CANAAN! I WANT MY MILK AND HONEY! I WANT MY ROOM TO STOP GOING UNDERWATER EVERYTIME IT RAINS! Thank you Father for the provision of the gutters I will have installed later today and the water run-off the men will create by the end of the month! (Sometimes living in the desert sounds good to me! Less chance of water damage!)

So be thankful for where God has you now, whether it be in the desert, or in captivity, or in His freedom. Each stage of life He takes you through is growing you. He is molding you. (not like the mold growing in my very wet bedroom either). You are there for a reason. Learn from the Isrealites and don't complain. Realize your blessings, He loves you.

I know, easier said than done...I'M TRYING TO DO IT! I KNOW!

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Who Tempted Lucifer?

Author: Katie

Ponder this.......About a year ago (wow I can't believe it has been a year already) I participated in a study on the book "A Case For Faith" by Lee Strobel. During the study we discussed how evil came into existance. We debated about God creating evil and what it was a product of. Well, it's a long dragged out complicated issue that I am not prepared to go into at this point. However, we were talking about evil on Earth......sin, the fall of man. Last night I got to wondering.......when did evil enter heaven? Why and how? I always have assumed angels to be good and demons to be bad. Demons are supposedly fallen is Lucifer. Therefore there are good angels and evil angels. God created them all as He creates everything. So, if evil comes from satan...........when and how did satan become evil? If satan is the temptor...who tempted satan to think that he was better than God? Does evil exist in heaven? Also, if evil entered heaven through satan, where did it come from? Did it exist before this time? If so then when God destroys satan and all evil.......what's to keep it from returning? Hmmmmmmm........ I'll have to add that to my list of questions to ask God when I get there.