Friday, December 10, 2010

David vs. Moses

I've been studying in the books of Samuel and Kings and it struck me the varying degrees for which one is punished or blessed. I've never thought it was fair when David has the guy killed for killing Saul. I mean, Saul was dying and suffering horribly I am sure. He begged the man to kill him quickly and put him out of his misery as the enemy was almost upon Saul and they would have surely tortured him and killed him much more cruelly. I can't see this act as anything other than mercy towards Saul. Never mind that Saul asked the guy to finish the job. So this guy has to die for his "sin" and there is no second chance for him. No chance to repent or be educated that in David's opinion it was a sin to kill the Lord's anointed even though he was already dying and begging to be put out of his misery. No chance for this guy at all and I personally don't see what he did wrong. I would have done the same thing.

But let's look at David for a moment shall we? He's up on the roof, sees a naked lady and does not do the right thing by leaving or turning away. No, he keeps watching her bathe and lusts after her. Probably has some nice fantasies about another man's wife and then decides to just have his dudes go get her from her home. He is instructed that she is Uriah's wife and does David care? NO. He brings her over to the palace, has sex with her, gets her pregnant and then tries to arrange it so that Uriah can sleep with his wife and then he will think the baby is his. But it doesn't work out 'cause Uriah is a stand up guy and does not go home to have sex with his wife because he doesn't think it would be right considering how the other men are fighting. So, being unable to pass his baby off as Uriah's David just arranges for Uriah to be killed by sending him to the worst place in the battle knowing he would die. Let's call it murder shall we? Now we know the Lord punishes David and Bathsheba by taking the life of the baby they conceived together but what about David? When contrasting David's actions and the actions of the guy who put King Saul who was already dying, in misery, with the enemy upon him who would have finished him off in a horrible manor and was begging this guy to kill him, well..... I have to ask...... who deserved to be put to death more? Surely by our standards it would be King David. But that's not the way it works. Why I wonder?

Then we have the contrast between Moses and King David. Both men called by God to do great things. Poor Moses has to put up with those complaining stiff necked never happy about anything Israelites for 40 years. I do not know how he kept his cool like he did for the forty years that he did. But at the end of the 40 years, just before they get to the promise land Moses gets fed up. He loses his cool, has what I call a meltdown of sorts and in his anger does not do what God asks and he just strikes the rock so that the water can come out. You know, to be honest here, I have never understood why Moses had to die. I get that he sinned by his action. But it was one action. One mistake and can we really blame him? Look at what he was travelling with for those 40 years. Those people were so obnoxious God kept killing them off with all sorts of plagues and deadly snakes because the ticked God off so bad. Remember when they made God so mad he was going to just kill them all and Moses begged God not to do such a thing! I mean can't God grant a little mercy to Moses for his moment of getting sick of them too? I don't get it. I don't have to get it either, I know that. But I can't quite learn from this lesson either because I don't get it. So relatively speaking Moses didn't really do anything that bad and he has to die but David commits this heinous crime/crimes and he gets to prosper, be King, and live in the palace, etc. In our understanding shouldn't Moses be able to be forgiven that sin of his if David could be forgiven his terrible sins?

Then I wonder....if God has a really great plan for you and you haven't completed it yet and you sin terribly do you not have to suffer the same punishment as say someone who has already completed their great task and just are done as far as their plan is concerned. What I mean is that Moses was at the end of the task God had for him so when he sinned and God didn't need him to lead his people into the promise land anymore because they were pretty much already there does he have to punished more severely because he wasn't needed anymore in the grand scheme of things? David was only in the beginning of what God had planned for him to do so when David sinned was he not killed and/or given much grace and mercy because he had not yet completed what God had for him to do? If David was at the end of his reign, Solomon had already been born and he committed the same sin as listed above I wonder what God would have done? Why such a different set of standards for Moses and David? Both men were extremely devoted friends of the Lord but they were not dealt with in the same manor in my personal humble confused opinion. I may be wrong, please tell me what I do not understand if I am wrong.

I just look at Shimei (I think that's how you spell it.) and he was killed for yelling obscenities at King David and throwing stones at him and his troops when David fled the kingdom because Absolom was being a jerk and trying to take over. When David comes back Shimei apologizes and begs for mercy. David gives it to him but on his death bed asks Solomon to deal with Shimei in his own wisdom. Shimei is eventually killed because Solomon tells him that if he leaves his designated area he is dead meat. Well don't you just know that Shimei left his area eventually because 2 of his slaves ran away and he went to go get them and he got whacked for it. But I look at this story and I see unforgiveness on David's part and this unforgiveness leads to a man having to die for what? He yelled obscenities and threw some rocks. What David did to Uriah and his family was so much worse and yet David didn't feel any particular need to off himself for his terrible behavior. All these men serve the same God. All of these men's sins were dealt with in completely different ways.

How does one truly understand the Bible and the things in it when they seem to apply so differently to each one of us. It really confuses me. I don't doubt the Bible or God. I'm not saying that but when we tell people that if you do this then God will do that are we really being truthful? Do we really know that is true because we can see it in mass application in Christian masses? If you have a greater plan for you life do you get to get away with more sin because God is doing something great with you?

A quick mention, at first I thought perhaps David was forgiven so much because he was repentant but as far as David was concerned Shimei was repentant too. He bowed on the ground and begged for forgiveness. David said he gave it and yet did he really? As soon as he was on his death bed he is all like "Hey Solomon, remember that jerk with the stones? Deal with him even though it's been tons of years since it happened." I don't get why he was not extended the same mercy since he had acknowledged his sin and repented.

The old testament always confuses me this way and this is probably why I mainly stay in the New Testament. It seems like in the Old Testament there is a different set of blessings and punishments for each individual. Which really makes it hard to understand prosperity also. Hmmm, well just the stuff I am pondering lately. I am probably going to finish 1 Kings then read 2 Kings and then ask for some wisdom and read the 4 books of Samuel and Kings again. Maybe it will make more sense to me then? A little insight would be lovely.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Performance or Heart...Order of importance?

My sweet little Amber will be turning 11 on Friday, December 3. Happy Birthday Amber!!

My little Braxton poo turned 4 on November 20. What's a birthday without a trip to the Olive Garden?
Unfortunately, I will be turning 41 on December 21. YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Turning was 40 was so traumatic. I am a little frightened to see what 41 is going to look like. Maybe 41 will be the year of acceptance? Hmmmm...... Or, things can continue to break down and fall down. Good grief. The good news is that if I keep my shoulders straight and lift my arms up my boobs pop right back up like they used to be ha ha. Lord help me.
Spiritually, I find myself in a predicament. Since the whole mess with church and us leaving I find myself being unable to connect mentally to worship. Why is that I wonder? I know that God didn't do anything offensive to us, a Pastor did. I do not even relate the two together. Oddly enough I find myself excited to go every Sunday morning but completely resistant to going on Wednesday nights. My new church which was the church that I went to before I left the one I just did, does not have service on Sunday nights except for the first Sunday of the month. I have to admit that I do not understand that at all, We used to have service every Sunday night and then 2 years ago it changed to only one Sunday a month. Weird.
I do not even really want to read my Bible anymore. I still do, but maybe only like 3 or 4 days a week now. I did read the book The Case for Christ last week too but still, I just feel very distant mentally from worship and from the Lord. I know this is all me, I am just not sure why I am doing it. I was pondering if this may in fact be a good thing. I think perhaps I need some reprogramming of sorts. When I went to True Life before every time I was there it was consistently because I wanted to be there. When I switched to Hillside because my husband wanted to go there, at some point in time the church seemed to morph into church attendance being the absolute be all and end all in the validation of one's Christianity. It was always mentioned to me about my husband not being with me every single time he did not attend and if I missed for any reason there was always an email by Sunday night or Monday, a Facebook message and the next time I did walk through the doors it was most certainly mentioned that I was missed at the last service. I think it happened so slowly that I did not perhaps realize that I was no longer going at some point because I wanted to but because I felt like I had to. I also didn't want anyone to think I was a bad Christian! I mean my goodness, I was trying to grow the ladies bible class I was teaching, how could I do that if people thought I was not a faithful follower?
Now that I have left and I am back at True Life I realize that the other church was more about performance and not the true nature of the heart. True Life is so much about interactive worship, it is all about the heart. The other church was definitely about the heart and all but it was more performance driven as far as church attendance goes. I think perhaps I am pulling back a bit because I want to fall in love with worship and church again. I am not sure.
I was really super super super angry at our previous Pastor but I have to say that I am really pleased that I was able to control myself and I only shared with two people what happened and why I left. One was a close and trusted friend who invited us to go there to begin with and the other was the Associate Pastor's wife. The only other thing I did was blog about it which nobody around here even reads or knows about. So.....I felt like it was important that it remain private and then I felt led to study Samuel. I knew the Lord had a message for me when I was at the part where David refuses to do anything to the Lord's anointed. I was like....... you know that applies to me too. My Pastor did something really awful and it was not acceptable and I took my family out of his church. BUT, he is anointed and called by God to do the Lord's work and just because he made a mistake does not mean I am entitled to discredit him or malign his name. I will not harm the Lord's anointed.
I truly believe the two books of Samuel are just the most awesomely lesson packed books in the Bible. I love me some Samuel. Those books never get old. So, God put it in me pretty good to get over it and leave the man alone. Which I have enough tact to do anyway but I felt comforted by the fact that God acknowledged that He is well aware of what happened and that it is for Him to deal with and not me. Okie dokie.
I still find it disturbing that I do not want to venture out for the midweek services though. I also have to include that I find it very difficult to pray anymore either. That really bothers me. I find my thoughts drifting as I pray. I cannot stay focused as I pray. I really am not quite sure what I am going through over here. I think perhaps this whole mess with my Pastor being so cruel to my husband and us leaving has affected me more than I thought at first. Which is also odd for me because I am a survivor type personality. I just do what needs to be done, period. I would not consider myself to be weak at all. Actually, that's pretty funny, me and weak? Um, no. SO, what the heck is wrong with me?
We do not even want to discuss my husband's attitude about anything churchy now. Which is what really angers me. I really wish people would just shut up more and worry about the plank in their own eye. And, if you think you don't have any planks.... Lord help you because you are in serious trouble. Everyone has a plank or two. I may have 10 or 12 ha ha.
Well, that's where I am at these days. Confused and approaching another horrifying birthday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Loving Returning to True Life

This is what I would consider to be my home church. I LOVE this church. I was so incredibly sad when I left it about a year and a half ago to visit a church my husband wanted to try. My husband does not care too much for this church because a great majority of the people are totally surrendered to God and are completely unashamed to worship openly, rush to the altar at any point in the service, cry, whatever. They really love to get their music on at this church too ha ha. Singing lasts 45 minutes or so and it is super super awesome. I always sang in the choir at this church and I loved it so much. I loved the people I sang with too. Oh the good ole days. Anyhoo, hubby does not like singing that long and it makes him a little uncomfortable when the congregation gets a little excited at some services and we get our Jesus on so to speak. But I was so excited to be able to go back to True Life this past Sunday with my parents who still attend there.
I felt like I was back home. Yes indeedy I did. I did fully enjoy my old church and the people there but as I have said many times before I could never get into the music they sang at the church I just left. I cannot stand bluegrass or old southern gospel and that was mostly what we sang there. Dude, I could not honestly ever worship during the music time there so I left the choir at that church because I feel like the choir should consist of worshipers and I most definitely could not worship singing old country gospel. Sorry. I tried to explain it to them like this: You hate heavy metal right, well try singing those lyrics to heavy metal. You couldn't worship much either could you? So......Well it was so completely awesome to worship to modern contemporary music last Sunday! YES!!!!! Loved it. Not knocking the old church, hey, they all loved it and my husband loved it and that was all that mattered. I wasn't there for the music so no biggy.
I knew I was back in the right place too when everyone was so excited to see me and I received lots and lots of big super duper hugs. And, not one of the wonderful people there did not ask me to account for the last year and a half of my life. Not a single one. That was such a beautiful experience for me considering that I could never walk through the doors of my last church without being asked where one of the members of my family were if we were not all there and that was for all 3 weekly services. What a pain in the rear that was! It was like a little confirmation and gift from God that they were all just so happy to see me and had nothing but positive to say. I was so used to having to give an account for where I was if I missed a single service that it seemed incredulous to me that after a year and a half nobody asked where I had been. That is the way it should be, goodness I do love those people.
I also about wet myself when the Pastor, who was preaching on Grace, said you will run into people all the time who will be or tell you that they are more holy than you are and they will have no problems telling you that you aren't doing everything right. Well, those people can never be so holy and perfect that they can cheat you out of eternity with Jesus. YES!!!!!!!!! I promise you that was a sweet precious gift from God for moi. Oh yes, I wish my husband could have been there to hear that. All they could do at the church we just left was tell him constantly that he wasn't doing it right. Oh how certain people need to be emailed the link for that sermon as soon as it is available online. Just sayin..... I have gone to the church website before and watched Pastor Ryan's sermons online. Boy is he a great preacher. Here is the link if you want to check it out
I had such a great time seeing old friends and I cannot wait to go back this Sunday morning. I was going to visit another church during the weeknight service to visit some other old friends but I was a wee bit sick and my mom wanted me to come visit her so I did. I cannot wait to go visit Faithpointe Church in Woodstock this coming Thursday night and see more old friends. Pastor Seth is a fantastic teaching preacher and he is so funny too. He cracks me up and I took more notes during his sermons than anyone else's. He used to preach at True Life but he started his own church about a year ago and they just moved into a new building last Sunday. I guess his church is doing great, no surprise there. What a great preacher and teacher all at the same time. Love his wife too. Can't wait to see everyone. I am quite certain I will make True Life my home again and it sure felt like home but I want to go hang out at the weeknight services with old friends at other churches and just relax a bit about where I end up. I am leaving it up to the Lord of course but I can't lie, True Life still feels like home. Just pulling into the parking lot made me smile super big and I practically leaped out of my car trying to get into the doors. I knew the candy man, his nickname, would be waiting at the door like always waiting to greet and hug. Sure enough, there he was and I couldn't have been more happy and he was so happy to see me. Oh how I love everyone there and the spirit of worship there is like no place else I have ever been. Love it love it love it.
I am happy to say that my nervous stomach and the shakes have stopped. I was so in shock from the events that led up to my deciding to leave our old church that they shook me so much it made me sick! I really hated that nervous shaky feeling, I couldn't sleep for days. It has been so upsetting for me to leave our church. My husband loved going there so much and he was growing in his personal relationship with the Lord. I am devastated that they nagged him and became so negative with him that it has ended now. I do not know how to deal with all of that but I do know that I can pray about it and God will make a way for Mike. I am not going to worry about how to work it all out. I am just giving it all to the Lord. He knows better than I do, right?
I am so grateful that I have True Life to go back to. I cannot imagine how much more devastating this would be if I did not have any clue where to go attend church. I don't know what aspect of serving I will end up in at True Life but it will be exciting to see how it all works out. Can't wait.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It Was Inevitable, Unfortunately.

It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I knew it was going to happen. I tried to stop it, I really did. But alas, the inevitable has happened and I must leave my church. I am beyond upset. I am livid and then I am calm. Up and down. My emotions are twisted up but one thing has remained a constant since Sunday afternoon. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I cannot stay at my church. I can no longer tolerate the manner in which they speak of and treat my husband. I am so done.

I have blogged a few times about my frustration with the nagging and negative comments my husband receives and I also receive about his church attendance. Which may I say is NO BODY'S business but his and the Lord. However, my Pastor and a few others for whatever reason believe that if you do not show up for church and that includes all 3 services that there had better be a good reason why and you should expect to explain yourself the next time you do show up. What? I've been in church my whole life and I have never seen anything like this and it has always bothered me but I loved going there so much that I just didn't let it bother me enough to be an issue. But seriously, church members are not employees, we should not have to explain ourselves for not showing up. It is no body's business where I was on Sunday night if I did not come. I should not have to hear any single comment about how my presence was missed. And, I used to think it was a genuine "We missed you at service Wednesday night." but in the last couple of months I have begun to recognize it as more of a rebuke than a genuine we missed you. Rude.

My husband has always done his own thing with God until the last year or so. He had a real and genuine experience with Jesus and he began giving church a try. He liked going a lot too. I was thrilled! He was doing door to door ministry with the men, he was having a great time of learning and experiencing how wonderful church can be. It was really great. Mike has always been a Christian, he just doesn't like going to church. And, y'all I can have a theological discussion with him and he is not clueless at all. He knows what Jesus is all about, he has some major awesome faith and he lives his life beautifully reflecting what a good Christian should be doing at home and in the community and not the least of which is the workplace. He truly treats others as he would want to be treated. He is a great guy, a great hubby and a great dad. But, this is not good enough for our Pastor. No, apparently you are on your way to hell or backsliding if you are not there ever single Sunday morning and as many other services as you can make. At the very least, it is mandatory to be there every single Sunday morning or the "Great Interrogation" ensues.

You see, I can so understand the genuine good place our Pastor is coming from. He just truly wants his flock to have the best, fullest most wonderful Christian life and relationship with the Lord. He really does. I believe that. You can't have that great, blessed and fulfilling life without personal relationship and being in the will of the Lord. I get that. BUT, what he forgets is that all of our Christian walks have a beginning, a middle and an end. From what I can see, he has forgotten about that whole middle part. How many of us had unfaltering Christian walks? How many of us have never taken a break from Church for whatever reason? Few Christians have gotten saved and then went to church every single Sunday morning for the rest of their lives. When someone has a real experience with Jesus and begins going to church they are on fire. They volunteer for lots of stuff usually. They want to tell everyone about Jesus, etc. But then what happens? Yes, the newness wears off and they begin to settle down a bit. They also tire out from working all day and then going to several services a week and also doing the volunteering they signed up for. So, they back off a bit.

This is where things got hairy for us. Instead of understanding this process and letting the hubs and the Lord work this out between themselves our Pastor gets concerned and nags him to death. "Where were you?" "You can't slack off from coming to church. You need to be the spiritual leader in your home." "You are endangering yourself to backsliding." I mean, I could go on. It just does not end. Why can't he just let a somewhat new convert find his place and work through the path he needs to take. We need to let other Christians have their middles just as we had our middles. You can't stand in the pulpit and talk about how you strayed and then berate a perfectly good new convert for missing a Sunday. Dude, he was just tired and he is just beginning this Church stuff. It's not as important to him yet as it is to you. GIVE IT TIME. But no, we have to nag and make things so negative that now my hubs no longer even wants to go to church because he does not want to hear first off, the where were yous, and then the "let me tell you all about the terrible things that are going to happen to you if you don't come here every single Sunday stuff". Um, of course he doesn't want to go to church anymore. He does not want to listen to YOUR NAGGING! Der.....

So now, in your zeal to keep him in church he has zero desire to even darken the doors of a church because it has become a place of nagging and condemnation. Oh and if it was only the Pastor that might be bearable. But, in the small foyer the men gather and as you walk into the church they are there to greet, shake hands and if need be, conduct an Inquisition as to where you were and how you are not doing it right. How many times did I want to scream "SHUT UP!!!! YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN EVERYTHING!!!" And, they did. I completely understand both sides but I put the majority of the blame for hubs not going to church much anymore on the mature Christians. They should know better than to be nags and judgemental. They all kid about their stupid mistakes in the past. Okay, so nobody else is entitled to make mistakes? Suddenly you are in charge of keeping church goers in line? Yeah, um, all you are going to do is make people feel uncomfortable and they will quit coming. Everyone needs a middle.

Once we become mature Christians and have made some dumb mistakes, we walk away from God for a bit or whatever we realize our mistakes and we truly embrace that fulfilling Christian life. It doesn't just come. We have to build our relationship with the Lord. We have to learn a lot of things.....but the key is let people do that without making church a negative place. People should not have to feel like they HAVE to go to church because it will be noticed that they are missed and that it is EXPECTED of them! Nobody is going to go to a place like that for long. Nobody wants that. It is too much pressure for someone who is just beginning their walk with the Lord. Who wants all that pressure? If I miss a service it irritates the poo out of me that I will have to hear it from at least two people that they noticed I was not there and of course the inevitable where were you from at least one of them. Um, I don't work for you. It's none of your business where I was. I may have been selling my body on the street corner, I may have been puking my guts out sick. It is none of your business. STOP ASKING ME.

One of my all time favorites. Every time I go to the altar for me, my sin, my issues, they start praying about my husband and for him to be a better spiritual leader, for him for him, for him. I'm like, GREAT, I cannot even go to the altar for my own personal spiritual junk without their judgemental condemnation about him interfering. Oh sure, everyone please pile on and lay hands on me and pray for my horrible sinful husband to end my wretched suffering. Really, please do. NOT. Um, my husband is way awesome and does his best to reflect a Christian in his personal life and I am in no way suffering nor are my children. He prays every days. He gets it, he just doesn't like going to church for just this flippin reason. So, now he is over it and so am I. I mean the nerve of people to assume that I am up at the altar because my husband is not with me. Um, just 'cause you go to church every service like I mostly do does not mean that you have all your junk together and every time I am up there it is because of my own mess ups. NOT HIS, thank you very much but thank you even more for just assuming that he is a monster and a heinous Christian because he has not immediately lept from new church goer and acted and served like some of them, a mature seasoned Christian. I am so sorry he has failed your expectations, please feel free to judge and heap condemnation on him. Yeah, he totally deserves it.

So hubs was supposed to build our new building. I'll make this quick. He has been saying for months that there will be no money in the budget to pay him. He was going to do it for a small amount that the Pastor said they would pay him. About half of what it would normally be. He has also worked hours and hours and hours getting pricing, putting together estimates and doing everything the bank needed to secure the loan. He has spent tons of time on this building project out of service to the Lord and to be helpful. Now that it is time to build and the permit is here and everything is ready....what does Pastor tell him? He tells him that he has no excuse for not coming to church and that while he is building the church he needs to come every Sunday. He also tells hubs that he is pretty sure that there will be no money left over to pay him. Now, 2 minutes prior to that he tells hubs he wants to add brick and that he wants to give 2 jobs to someone who has over bid those two jobs $5000 higher than two other bids but he wants to give that high bidder the job anyway. Well, between giving the high bidder the job and adding the brick that is the amount my hubs would have earned for the total job. So, then he says he is pretty sure he can't pay hubs at the end. Well, of course you can't now, you just gave away $5000 extra to a fellow church member because whatever and now you want to add brick which you cannot afford but hey, let's just not pay the guy building it for you and you can have brick! Makes perfect sense. So hubs comes home two weeks ago and says what he has been saying all along. He will do the job for free. He is mad. He is mad about it only because the money is there to pay him but Pastor wants to do a favor to someone and add brick and the only way to do that is to just not pay hubs. You want to hear the crazy part? Although Mike is EXTREMELY HURT because he knows he is being used and the money is there to pay him but Pastor is willing to use it for other things instead, Mike was willing to do it anyway. He was going to spend the money for the gas to go there every day, he was going to sacrifice pay because if he is at the church building it then he is not making money someplace else. But Mike had faith that God would honor that sacrifice and bring in extra jobs so he could work for free at the church while everyone else got paid and everything would be fine. He was going to do it. He has already done lots of work getting things ready number wise and getting the budget together and he wanted to finish the job.

Sunday afternoon, a fellow member of the church called my husband and said they had a committee meeting and it was decided that they would put together a building committee and build the church themselves and they would no longer need his services. In other words, you are fired now that you have worked for FREE and done all the stuff we didn't have the software to do or the know how and now that the church is ready to be built and we actually are supposed to start paying you something we are firing you and we will do the rest ourselves. Hey, sucker, thanks for all the free work you did. Sucker.

You know what really infuriated me? Not that they fired him, but that the Pastor had another member of the church call hubs and fire him. Nobody has ever discussed the building of the church with Mike before. The only person he has ever communicated with about the building of the church with was the Pastor. That was the most low down dirty rotten nasty cowardly act to have another member of the church who has never EVER spoken to Mike before about the construction of this church to do the Pastor's dirty work and fire my husband. It was the final slap in the face of what he must really think about my husband that he does not even call Mike himself to tell him that they are going to form a building committee and do it themselves since he does not think there will be money left to pay Mike. That was the bull crap excuse that the church member gave Mike. Okay, coward. I do not believe that for a single second. I believe that he told Mike that he had to come to church from now on and Mike got angry at that last meeting and while he went the next Sunday Mike missed the last two Sundays. One of which his back was out and he could not have even gotten in the car to go if he wanted to. Which don't you know I was forced to explain during the great inquisition in the foyer. So I guarantee you that after this second Sunday in a row of Mike not going he got mad and I just know he was feeling slightly guilty because he knew just like Mike knew that he was going to blow the budget and he would not pay Mike squat do. So he had probably already been thinking about just doing it themselves because of some guilt feelings about not paying Mike and when Mike didn't show the second Sunday in a quote Trump.....You're fired. Except, he did it dirty. You don't have someone do tons of work for you FREE OF CHARGE and then have someone else call and fire that person. You do it yourself. You do not treat my husband like a piece of trash. Act like a man, not a coward and do your own dirty work. You want to do it yourselves, fine. Whatever, we knew we weren't getting any money out of it for months. But, you do not treat him like trash because you think he is not a good enough Christian solely based on his irregular Church attendance.

What kills me is that the only reason Mike does not want to go to church is because he does not want to hear all the negative comments. They think their comments will draw him closer to the Lord, they actually think they are helping. Yuk yuk yuk, oh it would be funny if it was not so tragic. Dorks. Well, after the ultimate slap in the face of being fired over the phone by a fellow church goer and not the Pastor that was it for me. I will not go to a church that will treat my family in such a manner. I REALLY LOVED IT that Mike was informed that he was not going to be a part of the building committee either. Yeah, that is how I know that this whole decision was based off his church attendance. Oh, you judgemental blind fool, take care of the plank in your own eye. You know, the giant plank of thinking if everyone is not doing it your way they are on their way to HELL. Stupid. Beginning. Middle. End. You had your middle, let my husband have his.

The thing that kills me is that putting the attendance aside, dude, Mike has it going on. He is awesome. He never looks at other women in front of me, he never talks about other women, if something racy comes on he turns the channel. He never has said one negative thing about my body and I just turned 40 and have 4 kids. Not one negative thing. All my friends tell me that he has never said one bad thing about me and that when he talks about me he practically puts me on a pedestal. He speaks nothing but positive about me, um, how rare is that? He wants me to be happy and he trys to make me happy. Um, another rarity. He is a great dad and he parents our children, he doesn't just foist it all on me. He plays with his kids. He coaches and is President of our youth baseball league, so um, he is active in the community. He helps everyone he can and gives money to anyone who needs if if he has it at all to give. He does more good deeds than most I can tell you that. You know, he totally reflects a great Christ loving Christian to me. He just doesn't want to enter a building and hear negative stuff. "If you're not doing this, you don't love God." That doesn't do it for Mike. He hates that. He does not respond well to it. So, he just avoids it and listens to preaching on TV or the radio. He has a Bible and he prays. He is good he says. I still think he would benefit greatly from going to church more but after this experience I think perhaps he may be right in his case. He is too positive of a person. He likes encouraging stuff, not your evil and on your way to hell stuff. He is smart enough to know he is living a life pleasing to God. What can I say?

So, I am leaving. That means no more teaching for me, which I loved, but I can no longer listen to the comments about Mike and can they pray for him. I'm like, pray for yourselves, Mike is fine. Stop judging us!!!!!!! Whatever, I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER go to a small church again. I will only go to a church that is so big that if I do not show up for a service nobody will probably notice. I love to go to church, it is a true pleasure for me but dude, when you go you shouldn't go because you have to. It really needs to be more grounded in you want to. Sometimes we go because we just plain ole need to even when we don't want to, I'm not talking about that. Mostly we should want to go and feeling pressured to be there really just made me not want to go. I am looking forward to visiting my old church which is very large and seeing old friends. I am not sure where I will end up at. We have another really large church in Canton and of course we have the Jesus dome in Woodstock which is go gigantic you could get lost in the sanctuary. Hee hee. No nagging there!

I have peace about my decision except that I know they will all think I disappeared because I got mad that they fired him. Not true. I am livid over the cowardly judgemmental act of having some one else do the dirty work and that it was grounded in judgement over his church attendance. I wish them well in the building process 'cause we all know how well church committes function, lol.


Friday, October 22, 2010

God Is Real

An interesting discussion about Christianity, the Bible and agnostics was had yesterday. It was sparked by a stressful day and upon seeing someone from a past family friendship. You see, this person because of some lack of good and proper communication on both our parts thinks we are dishonest people now. Honestly, my husband is the most honest person I know. It makes me sick. I wish people would just be open to honest conversation. We have tried to have this open conversation but this person is just not willing to listen. I think some people just love drama, intrigue and that oh so special feeling of a narcissism high when you can feel superior to someone and decide they are not worthy of you and just cut them out of your life completely. Great for that person, except they are dead wrong. Perception is reality but our perception of reality is not always true and accurate.

Anyhoo, we got to talking about the Bible and the promises in it and just how much the hand of God is in everything. Being a Christian does not mean just working on being on Christlike and developing great Christian character and everything in your life will be blessed and lovely, money, health, etc. We still have to make strong professional decisions, sound financial decisions, and make the choice to treat our bodies as temples so as to properly care for them. I got that. It just from an earthly standpoint is frustrating to watch smug & conceited people who live only for their own personal pleasures prosper so greatly while really great people who love the Lord passionately, work hard to succeed, serve in their churches, and give to others struggle month after month. That really chaps my tail. I always think of one of the Psalms in which the psalmist is complaining to the Lord about just such a thing. In fact, he is pretty ticked off that God allows it and gives God quite the tongue lashing. But, we are told that rewards and judgment are not always given in this life. It's a small comfort. I just try to tell myself that I will spend maybe another 40 to 45 years on this earth and then I am off for eternity to never struggle or watch my friends struggle again. Also, I won't have to be frustrated by mean smug people either. So I wait.

But then the whole topic of well what about the promises that if you are seeking with your whole heart, serving, etc. etc. that our lives will be blessed and the fact that the Bible talks about the storehouses overflowing (meaning finances, provision), cups running over, abundance and such. What about that? Do you only get that if you make sound decisions and have planned your life out perfectly? Hmmmm, I hate these scenarios, and I don't have the answers. I wonder these same things too. It is a little confusing sometimes. I watch small business owners like ourselves and several of our friends and acquaintances who are self employed as well and we all struggle. I can easily think of some families who are so passionately serving the Lord, humble, loving, generous beautiful people with wonderful kids and they struggle in these tough times. And I do mean nail biting struggling. Well, you can say this strengthens our faith and it does and that is most certainly necessary but when the struggling goes on for years that is tough. It just makes it hard I guess when you are doing all the things that promise prosperity and yet it is not there. Then you have to watch mean greedy people grow, thrive and sometimes even take advantage of you. That happens to us a lot.

The only thing I can say is that even though I may not always see the promises evident in my life (and if they aren't we need to pray for the Lord to search us and reveal anything displeasing to Him so we can get rid of it.) I know God is real. I know Jesus is real. I know this because God has revealed himself to me through answered prayers and through sending others as confirmations of things I had just prayed about. I know it because the Holy Spirit puts thoughts into my head. You know, when things just pop into your head and you weren't even thinking those thoughts, that's not you, it's the Holy Spirit. I know He is real through interaction such as that. I know that He is real. And, if I know that He is real what else is there but to just keep trusting and worshiping. Even though my life has never been ideal, I've always had to struggle for every single little thing, God always makes it okay. It's never not been okay. When I should have been dying inside, He gave me peace. He has healed my children. So I try to remind myself, He is real. He loves me. He loves us all, even the meanies. I will live with Him forever one day and every single moment of eternity will not just be all right but it will be glorious! Should I give up, should any of us give up because we do not see the promises in our lives? Well, I say no, we should just know that He is real and worship away anyway. We may not always like it but I do feel confident that God knows what He is doing with each of us. I believe He has a plan for our lives. I believe the devil messes with those who love God passionately because we are threats to his stinky earthly kingdom he fancies so much. So, yes, we Christians will face those battles and we will be messed with. That is why we must stand firm. We are soldiers in the Lord's army because we must fight. And, fight I will you stinky devil. I will be so glad when you are gone forever! And, I will be so glad to never see another smug face again. We must keep our faith, think on what is good and true and never forget to praise Him and thank Him in all circumstances. It's just what we have to do.

During a tough moment the other day I just took my 4 year old outside, set up the T ball thingy gave him a huge bucket of balls and his bat. I sat in my lawn chair and watched him hit balls for about 30 minutes and we had a blast. Suddenly my stress was gone and I was a much happier and thankful person. We enjoyed the grass, the weather, the pretty trees and I was no longer grumpy and saying "Why Lord?" but instead I was saying "Thank you Lord". Just keep on going......


Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Jealous God

The day of my last post I had the most fascinating revelation from my pastor's wife. I was really upset as I knew that God was dealing with me in an area of disobedience and He certainly knew how to get my attention since I had been mostly ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit to get myself in check. So, He did what He needed to do to put me back in line. I knew it but I was so upset that the issue was so minor in my personal opinion that it warranted such discipline. I couldn't understand why THIS thing was so hideous and after all, it's like really the only issue I have other than the minor stuff we all deal with from time to time. As I wrote in my last post, that I deleted as I just really was needing to vent, that I was majorly peeved that it seems like God just does not let me get out of line at all. I don't get it.... you know how we all know Christians and they are lovely people and all but they have some major issues? I'm like, Lord, can't I do anything? Not even a little sin? Huh? He just does not let me sway to the right or the left at all. Which is a great thing, yes, but oh my, sometimes it can be tough. It's not that I want to sin, but hey, I am not perfect by any means and yes sometimes I get out of line and sin. Yep, I do.

Well, I was talking to my pastor's wife about cancelling our ladies Bible study last Thursday because God would just not give me a topic to teach about and I NEVER EVER decide what to teach. I always wait on the Lord and He always gives me the topic in advance easy peasy with no problems. Well, He wasn't forking anything over the two weeks prior from our last lesson to the one that was supposed to happen last Thursday. I tried to write one on my own. I couldn't write anything, which only further proved that God was dealing with me because I can write a paper about anything, even things I know nothing about like it was nothing. Well, I had nuttin. I told my pastor's wife about how God was dealing with me about an issue and that He just was not allowing me to put a study together. I said we would need to cancel the study because I value the ladies time too much to have them leave home and drive to church and not get something from God out of me. Who wants to come to Bible study that isn't anointed and listen to someone spew poop? Not me.

She said we would not cancel the study until I called her tomorrow afternoon. She said she had a feeling God would move. I was hopeful but admittedly doubtful. Then she said the most amazing thing to me. She said our God is a jealous God Jennifer and He just wants your attention. You know, I never told her what my issue was and that it was taking my time away from the Lord. After she said that to me I told her that the issue was stealing from my time with the Lord. She said I should feel complimented that God was so jealous for my time with Him that He would take the time to get my attention back to Him so quickly. I was blown away! She said He missed me! Can you believe that? Gave me goosebumps, it did.

What she said to me had to have come from the Lord. There is no possible other way. The other cool thing was that just before she came and picked me up to go to Wed. night church together I had been reading in the book of James and I about fell over when I read this because I was only in the book of James because I felt led to read it.
James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Which if you read the last post that I deleted that was mostly what I was so frustrated about. The whole discipline factor and my frustration about why God does not seem to let me get out of line in the least before I get a few warnings and then if I treat them lightly I get the smack down of sorts. Well, here was my answer to that question as to why He does that. Ta da!

I teach the ladies and 8 to 12 year olds so does teaching two classes give me a double portion of that scripture? ha ha. Well, it's all a blessing to serve and it is totally worth it and I am most humbly in awe that He even pauses to look at me because I am a dork. But, I am an obedient dork so He can use me. It's all good :) I have really made strides to get myself and my nasty habit under check. I have been praying my way through the day so to speak, again. I didn't realize that I had stopped doing that to do my new little bad habit. I felt like a bum to give God the cold shoulder and then be mad at him for disciplining me. I am flattered He missed me :) That's pretty dang cool.

Well, I ended up being able to write a lesson and we went ahead with the study but guess what? Only one lady showed up ha ha!!!!! I about laughed myself to death. I took a picture of the empty classroom and put it on my facebook page with the caption "Bueller, Bueller, anyone? anyone??" It got some laughs. I feel too like that was God saying I gave you the lesson but I will not give you the ladies, get yourself in check girl. So the one lady and I chatted for an hour about some good stuff and we left for home. It was a nice evening but I would have certainly rather have been teaching our regulars. Well, He got my attention and I think I received my spanking with some dignity although I did kick and scream a bit a the beginning. I will be teaching the lesson this next Thursday Oct. 28 instead.

One thing I had reinforced for sure in the last 8 days is that God is not kidding around. He means what His Word says! Can I share this with you? Of all the scriptures I've read this one has impacted me the most from Genesis 17:1 "walk before me and be blameless." Now more than ever I feel this requirement weighing in on me. Goodness, Lord, I will do my best to walk before you in a blameless manor. 'Cause I also really don't like those spiritual spankings, ahem.

Love y'all,


Monday, October 4, 2010

John 13:34 A Study on Love. Commentary & Teaching Notes

Be of Good Cheer & Love Study John 16:33. My Teaching Notes.......

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

1.Love is one of the key terms in chapters 13--17 in the book of John, occurring thirty-one times in these five chapters as compared to only six times in chapters 1--12.

2. Be of good cheer/courage derives from the Greek word Tharseo. It means to be of both good cheer and good courage. This is why some translations say cheer and some say courage. Really it means to be courageous and cheerful at the same time.

Let’s get to the heart of the lesson: John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13, 14, & 15 is focusing on loving and serving as Jesus did.

Why is this important? We find out in the very next verse. Verse 35: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

3. Let’s also take a look at why this command is so important to us. (Aside from having a personal relationship with the Lord, what is our main objective as a Church body? To go out and share the gospel with others & to build up, teach and edify each other right?) Let me share with you some comments from the website (they just changed their website since I put the study together and I can't locate the list now at a quick glance.) on why people do not believe the gospel. 15. If there is an infinite almighty all loving Creator who has one single, simple message to impart to us, why is he so spectacularly ineffective at doing so? 3. Christians are NOT different from non-Christians. 4. Church disunity. You see, Jesus knew we were going to need credibility to be able to effectively preach the gospel. He knew people were going to want to see Christians different from non Christians because our gospel says we will be different. He knew we would need to be unified by love and reflecting Christ's love through us so that all men would be able to recognize we were followers of Christ. Kind of makes this command a little more weighty to know that the salvation of souls lay in our reflecting Christ's love, doesn't it?

Scripturally, let's look at the importance of this command also.
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. In John 13 & 14 the only command Jesus is talking about is to love others as he has loved us. Sounds like this command is pretty important to Jesus to me! It also effects our personal relationship too!

Imagine for a moment how this might play out. Imagine how it would affect you if just about everyone you came into contact with loved you like Jesus would love you. Imagine how you would be positively changed if the people in your home loved you like Jesus would love you. Can you imagine how much more positive and loving we would then become and how different things could be? Imagine how the world would change if all Christians were to immediately commit to living a Christ like love and how that would impact non Christians and how they view us and the gospel we preach. Imagine the millions of lives that could be saved just by seeing Christ’s love play out so richly in our lives.

Can we understand the real impact of what Jesus is saying here? Do we really understand how important it is to obey what Jesus is saying?

In speaking about the Holy Spirit who was yet to come Jesus says: John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus in chapter 15 is speaking about the Holy Spirit and coming persecution. This is crucial too because to receive this peace we must remain in Him. To remain in Him we must do what?

John 15: 9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” What is the sum of the commandments given? Just what commandments is Jesus talking about? So far, the only thing Jesus is talking about in the chapters is the command to love. But, lest someone say Jesus is referring to the 10 commandments also, let's look at what Jesus says the sum of the 10 commandments are.

4. Matthew 22: 37-40 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." So, even if we want to argue that when Jesus says we are to keep His commandments to abide in His love that this is not just the command in John 13:34 to love others as He has loved us but also the 10 commandments we can see now that even those are summed up by loving. Loving God and loving others.......We cannot escape the fact that Jesus is talking about loving others as He has loved us being key to abiding in Jesus's love. I love this verse in Galations 5:6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. LOVE it! pun intended.

It is critical to note that we are not to love as we see fit or as by what we know love to be, but we are to love as Christ loved us. So what is Love anyway as defined by the Bible? Let’s take a look.

1 Corinthians 13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Commandment begins in John 13:34 and still in John 15 Jesus continues to repeat it again and again throughout the 3 chapters! This is the last lesson he taught the disciples before he was betrayed by Judas and it seems to me that Jesus took the time to really let us know how much this command meant to Him.

John 15: 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15: 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
John 15: 17 These things
I command you, that you love one another.

So now we know what the Bible defines love to be we need look at how Jesus displayed these traits toward us. Let’s look at how we can display a Christ like love by looking at how Jesus loved us. What would Jesus really do? I highly encourage you to read all four gospels specifically from the starting point where Jesus begins His ministry and ask God to show you all the ways Jesus showed His love for us as you read.

So, What Would Jesus Do?
Wife Swap Scenario: If Jesus and I swapped places for a period of time and Jesus took my place within my family how might Jesus do things differently? How would Jesus love/interact with my husband? Would Jesus change anything about my routine so that I could love not only Him better but also my family? And, if needed and Jesus had to gently “encourage” my husband to do his fair share around the home would my husband accuse even Jesus of nagging? (hee hee) How would Jesus love/interact with my children? How would Jesus love/interact with my parents/siblings? Would he fight with them? ‘Cause you know how annoying family can be. Would my family get on Jesus’ nerves and cause him to have mini meltdowns? What might Jesus do in my home differently as He displayed His Christ like love? And, if I displayed this Christ like love do I think it would catch on? How would my life be impacted by receiving Christ like love from my family members?

Let’s look at these same thoughts for work & places we spend a good deal of time at like Church. How would Jesus conduct himself if He took my place at these other places also?

I just want to share what the Life Application Bible says about Joy. “Joy is a common theme in Christ’s teachings- he wants us to be joyful (see John 15:11; John 16:24, John 16:33). The key to immeasurable joy is living in intimate contact with Christ, the source of all joy. When we do, we will experience God’s special care and protection and see the victory God brings even when defeat seems certain.” We can learn from this lesson that one of the keys to abiding in Christ’s love is to display that love to everyone around us.

I had a really great time putting this study together. It really made me understand the full weight of the command Jesus gives in John 13:34 and it has made me really look at how I interact with others, especially my family. We will say things to our family members that we would not dream of saying to others, right? I feel highly encouraged that we as Christians can be obedient to this command and oh my, what a wonderful world this would be if we all committed to doing it!

Love y'all,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Joys of A Pap Smear....NOT.

My little artist....she is such a sweetie. Guitar lessons are coming along nicely.

So I went and had a complete physical today. It was the most thorough exam I have ever had. I was soooooo happy it was a woman, let me tell ya. AND, if anybody remembers my post on funny gynecological stories that were all funny but true, well I held true to form and laughed myself silly during the exam. Breast and the pelvic......the lady doing it was laughing just as hard as I was because I was laughing it made her laugh. hee hee. I can't imagine why I am that ticklish, but hey, we had a good laugh and probably everyone who heard us laughing had fun laughing at us laughing too. See, you can have a breast exam and a pap smear and spread joy at the same time. Never let it be said that women are not great multi taskers!

Tonight I will be leading the last DVD session on Lysa TerKeurst's DVD Bible Study "Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl" at church. I have really and truly enjoyed this study and I can honestly say that it has impacted me dramatically and changed me. We started it 12 weeks ago and I am still benefiting so greatly from the very first session where I learned to replace my "what if" and "if only" with scripture from God's truth and speak that instead. Honestly, it has changed so much about my peace level and trust levels which were admittedly quite high already but truly this has taken me on a whole new higher level. Love that!

Do you know what else this study has changed? MY MARRIAGE!

Yeppers, it sure 'nuf did. And it changed it in many areas, all for the good. I wasn't expecting that. That was a HUGE surprise for me and boy oh boy am I loving it! I can't begin to cover all the fantastic things this study has done for my life in one blog post. And by that I do not mean that I am inspired to go change, no, the change has already taken place. It has changed how I live, how I think, how I process, and how I love. Not inspired, not motivated, but changed me. Deeply. Thank you Lysa!

Just watching the DVD one session after another without looking at the workbook the first time impacted me. Especially the first session! The last session and her closing thoughts got me too at the first viewing. But putting together the reading of her book "Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl", watching the DVD and then leading the ladies at church in a 45 minute discussion afterwards based on the workbook was incredible! The ladies did not want to do the workbook so I did it and then created the discussion questions based off what Lysa has in the workbook. I really wish the ladies had done all of the reading and workbook, I think it is the combination of all 3 that has really impacted me but I do know the ladies have said they have changed too. I love the challenges that were thrown in too. Lysa on Session 2 I believe threw out a challenge to us and we loved it! So, me being me, I added new challenges every study.

Two of the most favorite challenges I heard from the ladies were Lysa's questions/challenges on these two topics.
1. How can I be a woman of more carefully chosen words? "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" was our scripture out of Psalms. The ladies loved that one as they set out for two weeks carefully choosing their words only to find themselves more peaceful and hearing their families comment on how much more calmer mom was and that she was nicer. Hmmmmm, ladies, maybe we could all stand that challenge? Men, you too.

2. In your sphere of influence, how can you love the people around you better? I personally found this to be the most challenging one. I thought it would be the easiest, nope. But, the results were fantastic and the ladies, who did it, all had the same positive things to say about it. Must work huh? So, in your sphere of influence, who can you love better?

Lysa TerKeurst is by far my most favorite Bible teacher/speaker. Oh yes. God has used her to change me in the most wonderful ways. I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if Lysa never responded to God's calling on her life. What if Lysa, sitting in her home with her children and being an ordinary mom, felt this pull on her life and said "Lord, I am not qualified to do this. I am scared. I have a past Lord, people will never listen to me. Who wants to hear what I have to say anyway? Lord, please don't ask me to get up and embarrass myself in front of so many people. There are so many more around me who are so much better than I am!". What if? What would hundreds, probably thousands of lives look like if Lysa had not passionately pursued God and listened for Him to call her? And, she was just an ordinary mom like so many of us. But, she has a heart for the Lord and is obedient and that is how He can use her so mightily! LOVE IT. I love this quote from her so much "I am called; therefore I am equipped." Yes we are.

I am really anticipating a nice time tonight as we close out this DVD study and in two weeks I will go back to presenting the Bible studies that I write with the Holy Spirit. This next one has really got me. I am studying and studying and studying and I am full of "knowledge" on John chapters 13-16 but there is still so much more that I know God wants me to do with this study. I feel certain I am going to have to make it a 2 part study. Which frustrates me honestly because we meet every other week so then this study will have the 2 week gap. Oh well, if the Lord asked me to do it, then He will be working it all out. I am feeling such a strong pull to lean the study heavily on Jesus's command which He gives several times through chapters 13-16 to love others has He has loved us. Specifically how did Jesus love us? How can I love the people I come into contact with like Jesus would love them? If Jesus and I did a swap (exp. wife swap), how would Jesus operate in my home and love my family? Then, okay, how can I do those things?

This study should be all about one word. IMPACT.

Praying for big things in this....

Love y'all,


Monday, August 30, 2010

Weight Loss & The Continuing John 16:33 study

I haven't done a weight loss update lately....I have lost 34 lbs now since Jan. YAY!!! I hit a plateau at the end of April and had not lost a single pound until last week when I managed to lose 2 more. I am very excited about that! My husband super surprised me last week by coming home and telling me that UPS had left a box on the porch and could I go get it. The funny thing was that I was a bit miffed that he saw the box on the porch when he came home and then walked in and told me to go get it. But, I decided to be nice and just go get the box for him. He is always ordering stuff for our remodeling business so a UPS delivery is nothing new around here. Well, when I got to the door which is mostly glass I saw a HUMONGOUS box sitting in the yard. I gasped and yelled out something which I can't remember. I thought UPS had made a huge mistake and left some huge box at our door by error. Then I opened the door and saw a drawing on the box and boy did I get excited! The hubs bought me an elliptical!!!!! I had been wanting one badly. He was hiding behind me to see my reaction ha ha. It was a good thing I held my tongue about him telling me to go get the box, right? hee hee. Well this elliptical is kicking my booty! I have never sweat so hard and so fast. I am expecting some great results.

On the spiritual side of things....the study the Lord has me doing in the book of John has been really incredible. It all started with Him giving me John 16:33 as the scripture topic. But, of course as I posted earlier you can't do a study on John 16 without also studying John 15 because the first words in John 16:33 were these things I have said unto you, which implies of course that you would have to know what "these things" are. So, going to John 16:1 the first words are things things I have said.... again now we need to know what "those things" are in John 15 which may I say John 15 is incomplete in a full understanding without doing a study on John 14. After going over these chapters I feel like God wants this broken down into a two fold study. First, Jesus in the topic verse that the Lord gave me to study is telling us to be of good cheer or to be of good courage when we face all that the world throws at us as we go about doing God's will for our lives. Jesus says that we should have "tharseo" which means to be of good cheer or to be of good courage. That is why some translations in this verse say good courage and some say good cheer. Both meanings come from the same word. So, since that is the verse God gave me He obviously wants us to study what it truly means to be living a life of tharseo and what would that look like in our every day lives. How can we become people of tharseo? But I also feel so very very strongly that in going through chapter 14 and 15 of John that Jesus is quite serious about the command He gives and how living this command is serious business in relation to abiding Him and in relation to Him showing Himself to us. Jesus states twice in chapter 14 that His command is to love others as He has loved us. Without getting too exhaustive here, I feel so strongly that the Lord wants us ladies to study what exactly it means to love others as Jesus would love them. What does that truly mean and do I do that?

Do I love my husband as Jesus would love him? How would Jesus treat my husband when he walks in the door from work? How would Jesus treat my children on a daily basis? What would Jesus's attitude be about taking care of my family? Would Jesus throw a hissy fit because my husband treasures his relaxation and down time with the kids more than he treasures a clean and tidy home? ( I say that only because that's one of the biggest complaints women have in their homes.....they are doing all or most of the work and their husbands are not very helpful. But alas, our husbands tend to be more like Mary and we ladies tend to be more like Martha and we could learn to relax more and not be so control freakish about our homes and learn some from our husbands.) Jesus states he gives us his peace in the same conversation in John. Am I a woman of peace in my home? Am I a woman of peace at work? Am I a woman of peace in my friendships? How do I love the people in my life? How would Jesus love the people in my life?

Of course we will tackle the issues of the "unfairness of life" and how to actually be a person of tharseo and a person who can learn to love others as Jesus would even in unfair situations. 'Cause let's face ain't a bed of roses for any of us and some of us have it harder than others. We need to discuss these scenarios and learn how to apply this command Jesus gives us in this study. I don't want this to be a feel good study and then nobody ever learns to apply the command. So.....I am seeking and studying this topic and am excited to see how it all turns out. I will teach this on Sept. 16 so I have so decent time to get it ready. I'll post everything as soon as I get it done but the "live" bible studies we do at the church are always more than twice as good as the paper notes I always type up. We have some wonderful discussions in class!

Well, it's time to exercise and then do my secretary/accounting duties for Stonecrest Homes & Renovations. The business has been doing wonderful, amen and thank you Lord for that! I just started a Facebook Fan page for Stonecrest Homes if you want to join. I would love to see you there as we will post something probably once a week, twice at the most and have some great inspiration pictures of the work we do.

Love y'all,


Friday, August 20, 2010

How Not To Grow Church Attendance

This is not a regular blog post. I just feel led to type this thing out and I think perhaps it is for someone with a church attendance issue or a church nagger to stumble upon but who knows?

You can be right and wrong all at the same time. Did you know that? How can this be? Well, to put it simply we can be doing our best to try to help someone in their spiritual walk with the Lord and be right in everything we say scripturaly but be completely wrong for even saying it in the first place. The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. I have seen a new meaning in that this week. Yes, I have seen that we can indeed KILL someone else's spiritual walk with our tongue.

I have been witness to a few people in the last few weeks being judged and nagged about their church attendance and their walk with the Lord. And, as an avid church goer myself, as in I go to all 3 services every week plus I teach the ladies Bible class every other Thursday so on those weeks I am there 4 times a week, and do you know what that means? Diddly, that's what it means in the big scheme of things. I do not have to attend that many times to be saved, sanctified, justified or have a close relationship with the Lord. If that were so, why do we even bother with missions in 3rd world countries where they have no churches? Hmmmm? Why are we even in Africa? Or China? What's the point?

I mean seriously, how long must Christianity be in existence before we get this stuff figured out folks? It just kills me when we put our own personal spin on what we believe and put it out there as theology and then blab out to people who we "want to help" by nagging them to death (Oh but sister, I am just pointing out what they need to be doing so they don't fall away. Um, no they will fall away because you are nagging them to death and now church is not a pleasant place to be and instead a place of negativity and condemnation. And, who wants to be in a place like that?). I know I don't want to be in a place like that! You know why I go so many times a week? Because I want to, not because I have to, but I WANT to. And, it took me many years before I wanted to do that. For decades I went on Sunday mornings only and did a little volunteering here and there and I didn't feel a lick of condemnation. You know why? I wasn't in the same place spiritually back then that I am in right now and you what? That's okay. It really really is. We all have such unique walks with the Lord. Why can't we as Christians accept that and stop trying to work things out ourselves and let God do it instead?

What does this mean exactly? Well, if I feel like brother or sister so and so is pulling away from the Lord the best thing I can do is pray for them and be an encourager by my loving actions when I do see them. The worst thing I can do is convene an inquisition every time I see them and question them as to where they were during the last church service that they were not at and then begin to list a slew of terrible things that can happen to Christians by beginning to pull back. I want to suggest that we actually trust God and His Holy Spirit to lead His people. I want us to trust in the fact that we can move mountains by prayer and petition. Before we begin to suggest to someone that they need to do something we truly need to hear from the Lord that He wants us to say these things. Should we call and check on those who have suddenly disappeared from the radar? Sure, they may be sick or just plain need to know someone missed them and loves them. I think that's great. But, I don't think it's cool to let someone know by a postcard or by comment that it was noticed that they were not at every service they miss.

I'm like, please show me where it says that if you do not attend every service you aren't right with the Lord! Good grief. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to have the opportunity to talk to a few of the people who have been condemned and nagged lately and convince them to either ignore and run hard away from the naggers or change churches all together. Alas, one of the people just plain won't go back to church. That's so sad to me, it really is. You know what else is sad about that? The person who did the nagging will never know the damage they have done. They have sinned also. They would tell me if they could that they are right I'd bet and quote a bunch of scriptures out of context. My favorite when I have this discussion with folks is where they say "Well the Bible says we are not to forsake the meeting together of the saints. We are to meet together in fellowship." So I say to that, okay well, where does it say how many times a week we should meet together? You can imagine the dirty looks I get. Hee hee.

I like to think of myself as the let's just call it like it is Christian. Let's leave our personal opinions out of theology unless we are going to state out loud "this is just my personal opinion". Let's be honest here, is it awesome and beneficial to read our Bibles every day, to pray every day, to stay aware of the presence of the Lord throughout our day, and to attend Church when the doors are open? SURE!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!! It's AWESOME!!!!!!! But, do we all get to the place where we want to do those things immediately? Do we get to that place with the Lord the same way? NO. Therefore, we should pray for and encourage those who are not at the same spiritual maturity level as we are as we should also pray for ourselves to continue to grow our own spiritual walk lest we think we are uber special or something. 'Cause none of us are perfect no matter what your church attendance record says. Can I get an Amen? Thank you.

I personally had my own little emotional breakdown this week over someone in my family being condemned and nagged to death and it hurt me deeply. Thankfully a great couple from church talked to me for an hour and a half after church and blessed me to death. I needed their encouragement and I am so thankful they were wise and gave it to me. I think I was hurting too much to be able to reason rationally which is odd for me but alas, that was the case. I felt led to discuss the issue with a friend and I am so glad I did. I was able to help a few people with this issue recently and this friend and her husband were able to speak wise words to me also. I just honestly get so frustrated and I wonder how much God looks down on us and thinks, "If those people would just stop trying to do everything for me and let me do it instead they'd be a whole lot happier!"

So, I'd like to encourage anyone who feels condemned by other Christians that they aren't doing it right, to ignore those words you have heard. Even if those words were true you may not be at the place in your walk with the Lord where you have the desire to do certain things. Can I encourage you to not give up on Church and to not give up on the Lord. The most important thing is to first establish a personal relationship with the Lord. This is how we hear from God, by seeking Him with a pure heart and talking to Him in prayer. What does it mean to have a pure heart? Well, to put it simply, you just want Him and you want to see Him, hear Him and know Him and you just want Him. You have no selfish motives, you just want to experience the Lord and let Him live in you and work through you. So it is through this abiding relationship with a pure heart that you will truly begin to develop your walk with God in wonderful and fruitful ways. He will draw you, He will give you truth and it is by remaining connected to God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit through studying and prayer that you will hear from God, you will grow spiritually and you will desire all the wonderful things God has for you. Prayer is everything, getting to know God's word for yourself is crucial! You are not a failure because you are not doing what someone else thinks you should be doing, even if they are right. Please just do not ever stop spending time with the Lord and seeking Him. It is a daily choice to seek the Lord and I want to encourage you that it is okay to take baby steps as long as you continue to grow. God will get you where you need to be if you just trust in Him to do that. If you want to know Him more and do what is right, then pray about it daily and He will be faithful to do it in you. You will never be perfect but you can receive perfect love and you can always be moving forward. Amen to that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Do You Really Know if You Are Saved?

How do you really know if you are saved? How do you know what to tell someone else who wants to be saved what to do once they pray the prayer? How do you REALLY know? Hmmmm, I am amazed at how we all have the same book and yet clearly cannot come to a clear conclusion as to how one becomes saved and retains that salvation if in fact salvation must be retained and is not a done deal at conversion.

Which leads us to the real question doesn't it? Can salvation be lost?

If it can, how do you lose it?

If it has been lost, how do you get it back?

Matthew 7:21-23 is a real sticking point in the "can you lose your salvation argument". Clearly there are people in this passage that know Jesus and were out there doing things in the name of Jesus and yet Jesus is not letting them into Heaven because they have not done the will of the Father. This passage is an excellent argument that you can in fact be a follower of Jesus but be out of the will of God (i.e., doing our own thing and not serving God actively or getting saved and then never letting the process of salvation have any real effect in our lives and we go on just like the rest of the world and live unchanged) and not be able to enter Heaven. I mean, the whole couple of paragraphs is even entitled A Tree and It's Fruit letting us know if the tree (us) is not producing fruit (worshiping, praying and doing the will of the Father) we ain't gettin in. Or does it?

In the subtitle of the Bible "A Tree and It's Fruit" there are two paragraphs. you can read them here.

The paragraph above Jesus sayin you can't come in even though you know me and did things in my name is a warning against false prophets that bear bad fruit. The come as wolves in sheep's clothing but we will be able to recognize those that distort God's word by their fruit we can recognize their true intentions by their fruit. We can recognize what is in their heart by their fruit. Then after the warning that some will come in His name but not really be of Him, we see Jesus saying that not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven even though they were out and about doing things in His name. No, only those who do the will of the Father.

So, is this bottom paragraph a warning for ALL Christians that if you are out of the will of the Father you lose your salvation? I want to say no. I would think it ridiculous that Jesus would be warning us of false prophets who will come into our lives, give us clear instructions on how we are to recognize them and then immediately segway into "Oh by the way, not only will the false prophets with bad fruit be thrown into the fire but all of you who are out of the will of God will be thrown in with them. AND, he just leaves it at that. This seems very odd to me that this would be the case. No, I personally find the two paragraphs completely related and tied together as in Jesus is still talking about the false prophets/ferocious wolves who would deceive us when he is speaking about those who will say Lord, Lord and try to enter into Heaven and be denied entrance.

Also, in numerous scriptures it says things like those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Or if you believe in your heart and confess with your tongue you will be saved. In all instances and folks, in the New Testament there are lots and lots of places where the salvation process is discussed it says to believe and confess to the Lord that Jesus is God's Son, died for payment of our sins, was sacrifice for ALL, died, rose again and is now in Heaven with God. I have to believe that this event is so important that it is in the Bible so many times for good reason. So, being that the salvation event is so important for us to become saved and set free, wouldn't it be just as equally important to have numerous writings on how to keep ones salvation if one can in fact lose it? I mean, what good would it do for us all to get saved and then just lose it? We are all sinners.....we are all going to poo it up......what if I am being a great little girl and then I have a bad month or two and die in a car wreck? Does 40 years of being saved not count for anything because I didn't go to church for 2 months and was a little depressed maybe? (Just an example). What if I am saved and go through a divorce and get a little nuts for 6 months or so....quit going to church, step out into worldly life for a bit and I die. Am I going to Hell now because I am not serving the Lord, have gone to dance clubs and had sex with my new boyfriend who I am obviously not married to? None of these things are God's will and are clearly sin, does that make me go to Hell now? I think not. I think I would be judged for my actions but my actions do not nullify my salvation.

If you can lose salvation I believe Paul, who was so good at writing out long and clear instructions (I mean look at Romans for pete's sake, it is a long clear cut argument for Christianity with why's and how's) would have addressed this issue long and hard. I believe there would be no question as to how to retain salvation because it would be addressed. What is the point of only telling us how to get salvation only if you can lose it? Wouldn't the Bible give us the various ways we can lose salvation? I think it would be much more clearly addressed.

Which is another kicker..... this is a great reason some of my atheist friends will not believe. They laugh at how us Christians cannot even agree on the salvation event alone much less the rest of the Bible. Well, it makes me mad but they are right. It frustrates me greatly.

I was just wondering what anyone else thought and do your churches teach salvation loss?