Here's one for my fellow choir buddies. I laughed out loud as I was reading this to my kids last week. It comes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
"The congregation being fully assembled now, the bell rang once more, to warn laggards and stragglers, and then a solemn hush fell upon the church which was only broken by the tittering and whispering of the choir in the gallery. The choir always tittered and whispered all through service. There was once a church choir that was not ill bred, but I have forgotten where it was, now. It was a great many years ago and I can scarcely remember anything about it, but I think it was in some foreign country."
You think Kevin would say a hearty AMEN?!
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Here's one for my fellow choir buddies. I laughed out loud as I was reading this to my kids last week. It comes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Friday, March 30, 2007
God's been tapping my shoulder in the last few months saying something about working together. I haven't figured out what it means yet which explains why Dianne's post about teamwork caught my attention. I give it this week's Note of Distinction. Congratulations to Dianne of Unfinished Work. Be sure to read it for yourself and give me your impressions.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
What is my responsibility?
C.S. Lewis said, "You have never met a mere mortal."
Every person you meet is immortal. Every human will live forever, somewhere.
I have been consumed lately with how mere belief in God doesn't cut it when it comes to experiencing Him as He desires. If our belief does not transform us, we are no better than Satan himself. Lately I feel a heaviness for people who've been blinded by him and realize they have no compass if they don't follow Christ. We have to help them navigate. We are the only defense for unbelievers against the devil's attacks, against his lies. But what can we do? How do we lead the blind?
Of course I know the best thing to do is pray and I have been, perhaps impatiently, but still doing it.
I know I have to care about others, not just be sympathetic, but CARE. Their pain should matter to me (This is a little scary. Carrying the burdens of others is HARD and can be very time consuming). I know I'm supposed to "share" and "witness" and "proclaim the Truth", but how can I do that when such exclusive evangelical lingo even turns ME off? How do I remain "authentic" (a word I see becoming new church lingo) as I relate to others? I know only the Holy Spirit draws people to God, but I also know I bear some responsibility.
We are surrounded by people who acknowledge God, but their belief does not translate into peace or good choices or sincere relationship with Him. Does that honor Him? Does it save them? Do they go to heaven? What am I supposed to do?
Help me out here. How have you reconciled this in your own life? How do you make the most of every encounter? How do you "be Jesus" to those around you?
Thanks to NIKON D2X PHOTOGRAPHER for his photo.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
~ C.S. Lewis ~
I walk in the door and see the muffins sitting on the counter and before I know what I'm doing, I'm popping one into my mouth.
One of my kids frustrates me and without thinking, I react in anger.
Engrossed in conversation, I utter the first thing that comes to mind without following the thought through in my head first.
I'm not a completely undisciplined person, but I swear I lose my head sometimes. Why don't I recognize I have a choice and exercise it before I do something stupid? Satan has distracted me. Instead of stopping to contemplate my next move, I do what comes naturally in my human self. It almost feels out of my control. How can I combat this?
One way. I don't pray to make good choices. He has already equipped me to to do this. I have to see the moment the choice presents itself. I pray God will help me recognize the moment of decision, the instant I realize I decide if I'll be in harmony with God or at war with Him.
Lord, give us eyes to see the moment of decision. Show us where we have a choice and give us the courage to make the right one.
Thanks to Christine at Fruit in Season for hosting this week.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Worrying about what other people think can immobilize me. Susie's words about fearing God instead of man really resonated with me. I give it this week's Note of Distinction. Click on one of the links to see for yourself.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Have you been following the slick advertising campaign about the human papillomavirus or HPV? We are being told there is a connection between HPV and cervical cancer. For months we saw commercials with women saying, "I didn't know." Frankly, I kept wondering, "Yeah, so?" and didn't understand the big hype until I read a column by Christian writer Angela Hunt. What the ads don't tells us is that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, not a common virus as we are led to believe. Now, you've probably seen ads for the vaccine Gardasil, the "protection" against HPV turning into cervical cancer. Because the vaccine is only effective if administered BEFORE a woman becomes sexually active, there is a push for states to make it mandatory for preteen girls. This is scary business, people. If you have daughters, please read the following links from Angela's blog. She has done extensive research and explains the entire situation very well. I found it all very sobering.
Tell Someone. . .the Entire Story
News Flash: Update on HPV the Vaccine
Time Magazine--Pot Calling the Kettle Black?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
God has spent my entire lifetime teaching me I am not all that. This quote is yet another reminder.
Mission work of any kind is not about what I can do for God. It's about letting God use me for His purposes, whatever, wherever they may be.
Missions are not the well-laid plans of men, but an extension, an outpouring of who we are in Christ.
Being involved in mission work is not optional.
I don't need any special skills to be involved in missions, only a willing heart.
The point is not to show others to Christ, it is to BE Christ to them.
Thanks to Laurel Wreath for hosting this week!
Saturday, March 17, 2007
It's not enough to believe in God.
It will not make a difference in our world.
The pain surrounding us confirms it.
The Barna Group claims that 71% of the US population believes in God. Yet, get a load of these startling statistics from Barna:
Percentage of adults who view certain behavior as morally acceptable (2003)
61% of adults view gambling as a morally acceptable behavior.
Enjoying sexual thoughts or fantasies about someone 59%
Living with someone of the opposite sex without being married, sometimes called co-habitation 60%
Having an abortion 45%
Having a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married 42%
Looking at pictures of nudity or explicit sexual behavior 38%
Using profanity (36%)
Getting drunk (35%)
Having a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex 30%
Using drugs not prescribed by a medical doctor 17%
Hmmm. . .doesn't the Bible call each of these activities SIN? What is not jiving here? Why doesn't our belief in God translate into righteous attitudes? All around us people are being blinded by Satan and believing his lies. They say yes to God, but no to His commands. And it doesn't work. We must do MORE than believe. We must seek Him wholeheartedly and know what He expects of us.
The Israelites wandered in the desert, waffling back and forth on their belief in God, switching their allegiance to the "god du jour". They were God's chosen people, but do not forget one important fact. THEY DID NOT ENTER THE PROMISED LAND. And neither will we if all we do is believe. We must do more than believe. We must LIVE like we believe. We must obey.
Why don't believing people want to follow God's laws? Something is missing.
I know the teen recognizes God because she has a desire to go to youth group. Though she is, at most, fourteen, she's already had more sexual partners than me. She seems very confident of herself and runs her life as she sees fit, yet I wonder how she feels when the lights go off at night. How long before her nightmare begins when she gets pregnant or taken advantage of? Why doesn't her belief in God help her make better choices?
He is a grown man, smart and hard-working, but always looking for something better. If only he made more money, had more clout, more power, more. . .anything, he could be happy. His nagging conscience tells him he should take his family to church, but he reasons it's too hard to sit through with his young children. Someday he'll get it together, but right now it's not that important. Meanwhile, he gets further from God, not realizing there is no standing still in God's economy. If he isn't walking towards Him, he's walking away. How long before he forgets the way back?
She was a good woman, a moral woman, who adored her family, yet at her funeral, Scripture doesn't comfort much. Hollowness hangs in the air. People act as if they are listening to a stock market report. The truth is spoken, but doesn't seem to pack much punch. Why? Why doesn't it register on the faces of those present? Why doesn't it sink in? The words seem empty because they are only words, not reality.
Life can be so much more. Life with God IS SO MUCH MORE. It can change you, improve you, give you more meaning, keep you from destroying yourself, yet we are surrounded by people going through the motions. Why doesn't their belief make a difference in their lives? Because it's not enough.
The Bible says "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Is it really that simple? Each person I described above would say they believe in Christ, yet it doesn't do anything for them. It doesn't motivate or inspire them in the least. Why?
Is our belief in God true if we don't follow His Word? Are you a painter if you don't paint? A hunter if you don't hunt? A teacher if you don't teach? Are you a "Christ"ian if you don't follow Christ, striving to be like Him? Does true belief exist without obeying God's Word? I ask you, how do we get this message across? How do we encourage others to want more? If we tell them believing is not enough, will that jar them into seeking God for real?
Photo courtesy of -RobW-.
I'm a day behind since we took the whole family on a little weekend getaway, but I haven't forgotten. This week's Note of Distinction goes to Mary DeMuth of relevantblog for her post What Vina Said. I'm a sucker for a well said phrase and she provides one here I'll remember. Thank you, Mary!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I must be watching too many Seinfeld reruns.
There's this grocery store clerk that doesn't like me. And it drives me crazy.
I don't understand. I've been friendly to her. I've said thank you and been respectful. She's been so kind and cheerful to others I have often wondered if she is a Christian, yet whenever I come through her checkout, she is cold, short and disapproving.
Part of me wonders if it is because I always use my Discover card. Does she think it is irresponsible to use a credit card to pay for groceries? I want to scream at her, "Hey lady, I use my credit card like a debit card and record every transaction as they are made. I always pay my bill off each month and with my bonus points I've sent my daughter to church camp, bought family pictures and tickets to an amusement park, just to name a few." But then I'd be defending myself and why should I have to defend myself when I haven't done anything wrong? Isn't that like incriminating myself? This morning as I chose which checkout to go through I thought, "Don't look down on me, lady, you know nothing about me." Then I pushed my cart out of the store, passing by her station with my gnarly attitude and it occurred to me I was doing the same thing, assuming too much about her.
How do You want me to love her, Lord? How do I love the people who don't love me? How do I show mercy to someone who doesn't approve of me? And how do I quit being such a George?
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
~ Liz Curtis Higgs ~
from the devotional: Rise and Shine
She smiles weakly as he walks in the door and though she is business as usual, he can sense she's not herself.
"You okay?" he asks, wrapping her in his arms.
"Yep," she whispers in his ear.
He knows from experience that when it's really bad the question alone will bring the tears, so for this time he accepts her answer, understanding she is working hard to push through it. He gives her space and permission to process on her own. He doesn't need her to be happy to be fulfilled in this home. He knows God's work in people can be painful sometimes so he stays close, but doesn't interfere. And he never quits asking.
Those two little words mean the world to her. He has noticed her pain and that is all she needs right now. There are no lectures, no interrogations, only his gentle way of saying, "I'm here." She thanks God for a husband who is attentive and available, without expectations.
It is acceptance of who she is and where she's at. It is mercy. It is offering himself with no strings attached. It is love.
Visit Darlene Schacht dot com for more.
Monday, March 12, 2007
A relationship with God is more than following the rules and going to church and doing the "right" thing. God is not a fairy tale, a nice story we tell ourselves on Sunday to feel better. He is righteous and jealous for you. There is more to Him, SO much more. And if we don't find out what our lives can be with Him, we are denying ourselves something spectacular. We are missing out. Don't you want MORE?
If you're not going to follow His ways which are built for your best, why not denounce Him right now? If His laws are not good enough to follow or don't apply to you, then HE is not good enough to follow and doesn't apply to you. You may as well come out and deny His existence all together. Go ahead. Say it. Say God doesn't exist. Decide this God question once and for all and quit feeling guilty. Scream at the top of your lungs, "There is no God!"
You can't, can you? Because, what if it's true? What if He lives? What if you blow your only chance at eternal happiness?
You may not be able to say it out loud, but your actions are already denying Him. It doesn't matter that you believe in Him. It's not enough.
Friday, March 09, 2007
This week's Note of Distinction goes to Rachelle at Seek First His Kingdom. Her post on how to handle our thoughts and feelings called Express. . .Repress. . .or Relinquish? has been on my mind all week.
If you aren't a regular reader of Seek First His Kingdom, I encourage you to become one. Rachelle is one of my favorites. Congratulations, my friend, on being this week's Note of Distinction!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Though I prayed the entire 45-minute drive to the hospital, I noticed in the last ten minutes my breathing would get shallower, my heart would start pumping faster and the muscles in the back of my neck tensed up. Lord, it's so hard seeing him suffer knowing only death will fix it. Help me get through another day. He sat on the edge of his bed, hunched over the bedside table, head in his hands, struggling for every breath. One day he looked at me, his eyes watering, his nose running from the chemo and said, "I'm miserable, absolutely miserable." And there was nothing to do, no way to help him except be there and talk to him and try to take his mind off of it. And even though the pit in my stomach grew and my blood pressure rose entering those hospital doors, I did it every day until his death.
The alarm rang and the familiar fight with myself ensued. You gotta get up, Tam, there's so much to do. But it's too early. The night was too short. Doesn't matter. Remember what you have to accomplish before the kids get up? Lord, aren't I supposed to ENJOY life too? I don't want to live a rat race. I don't want to dread the day. Help me make the best of it, okay? This day is yours. It will be busy, but fill it with You. Let's make it count for something, okay? And my feet hit the floor.
The hurt look in her eyes upon seeing me jabbed me in the gut. Why, Lord? We're both trying. We're both doing what is right despite how we feel. When does the hurt go away? Then we pushed through the pain and had a pleasant conversation.
My jaw was clenched and I shut the dishwasher door with more force than necessary. Two Exedrins and three Advils later and my head was still pounding. Why was every person in my house an idiot? Were they TRYING to irritate the snot out of me? When will we learn where our socks go?!! Stupid people. . . no stupid PMS. Exactly what is the purpose of hormones, Lord? What am I supposed to do with this? "Just do the next thing, Tami," He replied. The day ended and no one was injured.
Martin Luther said, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." Amen, brother!! Isn't that the truth?!
Visit this week's host at Sting My Heart.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Do you know the right answer yet find yourself needing to be hit over the head again and again with the same message? Then Kevin's new devotional on Distinctive Notes is for you. See if you can relate to A "DUH" Moment.
It's Friday and that means time for another Note of Distinction. My favorite post of this week was Is America too religious? It comes from a site I've recently discovered called Think Christian. VERY interesting stuff here. Be sure to check it out.
Congratulations to Think Christian for being this week's Note of Distinction!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
March came in howling in my little corner of the world with a whirling snowstorm. What does that make it? A lion? A lamb? Sounds more like one of my kids!
But I don't care. I love it. I LOVE it, I tell you. Snow always makes me feel God. How does a beautiful 55 degree day become a blizzard in a matter of hours? It has to be God. Only God clears His throat to start the thunder. He spins His finger and the wind begins. The swirling snow, a blanket of His goodness, is evidence of His glory alone (sound familiar, my Bible study mates?). Only God can force us to slow down our crazy pace with a storm. Snow is soft and quiet, yet powerful enough to stop a town in its tracks. It is His presence. It is God saying, "I am here. Take your time. Stop and look at My beauty."
Only yesterday I was stressing about some decisions to be made in my near future. It was one of those, "Okay, Tami, don't get ahead of yourself, take a breath" kind of afternoons. I prayed for His help and guidance and kept telling myself to take it a day at a time. So I find it no coincidence that the day after I appealed for God's wisdom, He sent snow. He is showing me evidence of His presence, bringing me confirmation it will be all right. I suppose I should apologize to those of you who live in my little corner of the world. Sorry if we've inconvenienced you with the snowstorm. God is just assuring me He is there for me. Could He be telling you the same thing?
Revel in His presence today, my friends! Know that He is near.
Photo from iowa_spirit_walker.