Sunday, August 30, 2009

Change of Plan: An Unscheduled Break

We have some events coming up at church in the near future that have the potential to impact many lives; for that reason, our Pastor has called the church to a seven-day fast for alignment and focusing ourselves on hearing God in preparation for these.
This will be a Fast of Submission, and, as part of my fasting, I will be doing another internet break.

If you're curious about fasting, our Pastor has posted some simple fasting guidelines

Guess that will give me a good chance to sharpen the sword, eh?

I'll be back next Sunday! ;)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Days Like This...

Honey, you know, sometimes 'sugars out'. It's easy enough to fix; you just set the jar in a pan of hot water until the honey liquefies again.

But, what if your jar is a plastic squeeze bottle?

It's impossible to get the granulated honey out of the bottle into a glass container; I thought I'd just set the bottle in the hot water until it 'just' got hot enough to liquefy the honey and then pull it out fast.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday when this event actually took place, The Flute Player was a bit late leaving for school and the moment she left I dashed off to get into the shower.

Forgetting completely about the honey on the stove.

When I came back down half an hour later, the bottle had blown up like a football. It hadn't ruptured...but when I pulled it out of the water it all collapsed. Wouldn't even stand up.

I kinda propped it up so it could cool...but, wow...

I didn't think about it, but the general consensus is that the honey has been contaminated by random plastic molecules, since it was heated to the expansion point.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Prep Work 2: Sharpen the Sword

Tuesday night there was a prayer meeting called for the deaconesses in the church to come together and pray for the women's conference. We were exhorted to go aside from our routine and let God deal with us as that we would be ready to minister to the women who are coming.

The specific word was, 'Sharpen your sword'.

So I'm going to look at a couple of verses today, just because they were the first ones that popped into my spirit when I heard 'Sharpen your sword'.

(NOTE: what follows is exactly what I learned, written as I found it. Sorry it's so's a paradigm shift and I haven't completely processed it yet. But it's very interesting!)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. - Eph. 6:17

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart - Heb. 4:12

Whoa. Brain freeze.

See, I have been mulling this over for the last couple of days as I went about the necessary business of life, thinking about what it means and how I need to apply it to sharpen my sword. Thinking it is about digging into my Bible and refreshing myself on the truths contained there-in.

But, as I just typed those words out, reading them for the umpety-ump-umpth time, I suddenly realized something.

When Paul and the author of Hebrews wrote those words, there was no Bible. All they had was the Law and the Prophets....and the common folk did not have access to copies of those. It certainly wasn't available to the Gentiles living in Ephesus. They probably weren't even terribly familiar with the Hebrew scriptures.

But, according to my dispensational upbringing, 'the word of the Lord' always means the written word...the Bible. So I pulled out the Zodhiates and looked it up.

The Greek word used in Heb. 4:12 is, indeed, logos (Strongs # 3056). Okay, I thought, that actually is the written word. But, when I looked it up in the Word Study Dictionary, I found this (I have omitted the rather lengthy descriptions of the secondary meanings):

-[taken from the noun lego - 'to speak intelligently.']Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse, saying, thing.
I - Word, both the act of speaking and the thing spoken.
A) Word, as uttered by the living voice.
B) An emphatic word, meaning a saying, declaration, sentiment uttered.
C) Word or words, meaning talk, discourse, speech, the act of holding forth
D) Word, meaning talk, rumor, report.

II. - Reason, the reasoning Faculty as that power of the soul which is the basis of speech, rationality.
A) A reason, ground, cause
B) Reason as demanded or assigned, meaning reckoning, account

III - The word
Logos in [John's writings] stands for the preincarnate Christ, the spiritual, divine nature spoken of in the Jewish writings before and about the time of Christ, under various names, e.g. Son of man

Wow. The Greek word that I had always thought specified the written word doesn't imply anything about has to do w/speech.

File that and go on to the next one...because the word used in Ephesians, the one specifically referring to the weapon we are to wield, is rhema. That, I've always been told, is the 'proceeding word'...a word spoken from God to one's spirit.
Here's what the Word Study Dictionary has to say about rhema (Strong's # 4487):

-[taken from the noun rheo, 'to speak'] That which is spoken, a statement, a word.

I. Particularly a word as uttered by a living voice.

II. Collectively, word, pl. words, meaning saying, speech, discourse.

III. In the New Testament usage, often it has a particular meaning depending on the adjuncts or context:
A. Charge, accusation
B. Prediction, prophecy, equivalent to
rhemata proeiremena, sayings foretold. Rhemata tou Theou, sayings of God.
C. Promise from God
D. Command
E. Spoken of a teacher, word teaching, precept, doctrine...
F. A pronouncement from God.

IV. Metonymically* for things spoken of, a matter, affair.

logos, the expression of thought, while rhema stands for the subject spoken about...

(*I had to look up 'metonymy' in the American Heritage is defined as 'a figure of speech in which an idea is evoked or named by means of a term designating some associated notion.')

So...I don't really think I can so easily say now that logos is the written word and rhema is the revelatory word anymore. They both have the connotation of being spoken by a living voice. Actually, buried in the descriptive terms of application III - E of rhema is 'word of God...of the Lord, meaning the doctrines and promises of God revealed and taught in the Bible.'

Definitely a paradigm shift.

Obviously, the written word does fit aspects of both terms; but it appears that the word God speaks to us as individuals is the sword that pierces us and the weapon in our hand. It includes the written word and will never contradict it, but...if I'm going to sharpen my sword, what I really need to do is clean out my ears and shake off any sluggishness (throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles...Heb. 12:1) so that I can respond to the Word that He quickens in my spirit instantly.

Lord I want to hear Your voice more clearly; I want to obey more immediately; bring your Holy Whetstone that the Sword will be swift and sure in my life....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whaddya Think About Dreams?

Ok, I'm not talking about those secret dreams of life goals; I'm talking about dreams that come when you're sleeping.

Sometimes I remember dreams, sometimes I don't. Sometimes a dream is burned into my brain and it bugs me.

I've got a notebook in which I record the dreams that I wake up thinking least, most of them. There are one or two creepy ones that I remember but can't bring myself to record on paper.

I have a couple of 'scenario' dreams that repeat with slight variations.

Some folks say dreams are just the brain discharging; others say dreams are a subconscious way to deal with issues we aren't facing...and there's an application for prophetic dreaming, too.

I kinda think it's all of the above at one time or another.

I *don't* think someone can make blanket statements about what symbols mean in dreams. It's too personal...what symbolizes A to someone may symbolize B to someone else.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw the topic out for further discussion later. I may even write about some of the dreams I had and what I concluded from them...or, how perplexed I am by them.

At the very least, that opens up a whole 'nuther souce for blog post material! ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bible Survey, Anyone?

The program we use for our girls ministry is, by rights, an Assembly of God product. We're not an AG church, but we use the literature just the same.

Back in the day, it went through, oh, early high school. To earn the honors, the girls had to do a ton of memorization and read the entire Bible.

When they added the jr high/high school classes some time ago, they altered the program, putting what had been the top honor in the grade 3-5 club; changing up requirements a bit and only requiring the girls to read the New Testament. They added honor requirements for the older girls;  The Friends Club (jr high) then had to read the Bible through in their three years in order to earn their honors.

But, there's no 'step up' for the high school class. After reading the entire Bible in three years, the high school girls are then required to read it through in four years.

That just sounds kinda, well, lackluster to me.

So, since we're just starting the high school class this year, we decided to add a twist to the 'read the Bible through in 4 years' requirement.

As the girls read, they will be asked to write a one-sentence summary of each chapter. When finishing the book, then they use the page (or two!) of summaries to outline the book and write the theme statement.

There's no right or wrong's how each girl will decipher what she reads.

When she's done, she'll have a notebook of loose-leaf pages containing her own personal outline of the Bible.

Now *that's* a step up!

(I'm still 'reading the Bible through' with my Friends - the Junior High - class. When I finish, I'm going to start my own Bible Survey notebook. Just to keep up with the class....)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Must. Carry. Notebook.

I think I've had about 5 good ideas for blog posts today as I walked through the List of Things I Had To Do.

And, now that I have time to actually sit in front of the computer, my mind has gone totally blank.

I think I need to carry a little notebook around to remind myself of the Good Ideas.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Showin' the Armadillo

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: To show the armadillo it could be done.

A little over a year and a half ago, we had a crisis at church. One of our associate pastors fell into a moral error. There was a public confession, apology and rebuke. There was much prayer for restoration. Then, there was nothing more said publicly; there were no rumors flying around.

It was grievous; if it happened to these particular folks, believe me, it could happen to anybody. I saw how vulnerable we as humans are to such things...and I distinctly recall hearing the Spirit warn me "If you judge others, you will open the door to that attack in your own life." These folks were/are friends of mine; I joined my heart to pray for them as well.

But an amazing thing happened. Both the (now former) associate pastor and his wife, and the other person involved and her husband continued to attend the beginning, different services. There was counseling, there was prayer.

There was warfare. But the right kind.

And there was true repentance and reconciliation. Not overnight...but it happened.

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on restoration...the kind of restoration God does when we allow Him to humble us and remake what has been broken. For the first time in a year and a half, he mentioned the situation that arose two years ago.

And, in the face of overwhelming odds, we now have two marriages that have been restored. It was time to tell the congregation that the process has been completed and the folks involved were released to lay ministry in the body once again.

A chicken is not a very likely bird to set an example, is it? But...if the chicken is willing to go through the dry, hard place, led by the Master, and keeps moving, it will, eventually, get to the other side.

It can be done.

I don't know if our pastoral leadership, or any of the folks involved will ever wander by here and read this. But, just in case they do...from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sticking to God through this and showing any who look that it can be done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Six People Name a Cat

I think most folks that come by here also read the sewing blog; I mentioned over there that we acquired a kitty last week. There was a bit of a mistake in the kitty gender at first; now we are satisfied that the cat is a boy.

(ETA again...weeks later...we were right the first time; Frisco is a girl...)

And any animal that resides with a family must have a name.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a name that satisfies six people? I thought we'd just play with the cat a bit and then we'd all see what name fits.

Ha ha and ha!

During the days of gender confusion, we picked several girly names, none of which really satisfied anyone. We were a bit relieved to decide it was a boy, after all, and something masculine would be appropriate. As The Princess said, there's a ton of good boy cat names in the world.

Trouble is, we couldn't agree on any of them.

What names were suggested, you ask?
Chicago (let's just say our family is aware of someone else who goes by that name and leave it at that?)
Oliver (too sweet)
Chester (um, that's the name of a really annoying puppet in our children's church ministry. Some members of the family objected.)
Rambo (I personally vetoed any names relating to Sylvester Stallone)
Bean (to those familiar with the Ender saga, Bean was a brilliant street urchin who was rescued and sent to the military school. Sorta fits, but, well, only the Actor and I have read those books so no one else appreciated it)
Boo (Only The Actor liked this one)

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Today at lunch, the Princess announced, "We should name this cat. Seriously!"

Personally, I didn't think Seriously was a great name. (baDUMdum)

He was being exceptionally playful at the moment, and, as we watched him bounce around, someone suggested 'Frisky'.

Nope. That's cat food.

"What about Frisco?" I asked, just for grins.

To my surprise, no one immediately objected. It was quirky enough for those who required quirkiness, short enough for those who wanted simple, and totally unrelated to anyone we knew. A quick family poll and...

Meet The Frisco Kitty:


ETA: The Flute Player just read that entry and insisted that I correct something. After discussion, we decided that 'Frisky' suggested 'Frisco' to both of us, independently, and *she* was actually the one who brought it up to the rest of the family. I thought she was just echoing my suggestion, but she insists that she never heard me say it. So, to satisfy her little melancholy heart, I must set the record straight, lest anyone think it was I and not she who actually put the name before the family.

Whew again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Relative Mathematics

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I haven't posted any creative writing for a while...maybe it's time... ;)

A number of years ago I was in a debate w/a friend about absolute truth. He really could not accept that such a thing existed. Basically, he believed he could define his own spiritual reality without regard to absolutes. This little story was a response to that discussion.

Banking by Relative Mathematics

Once upon a time, there was a bank. It was a normal bank and carried on its banking business in the normal way. Into this bank one day a young man walked...we’ll call him Joe. Joe opened an account with the bank and deposited two hundred dollars into the bank. The bank was happy, Joe was happy. It was good.

The next week, Joe walked into the bank and deposited another two hundred dollars into his account. The bank was very happy to receive his money, Joe was happy that his money was well taken care of. It was still good.

The problem started about three days later, when Joe found a TV he wished to purchase for five hundred dollars. Being somewhat distrustful of checks and credit cards, Joe decided to pay cash for his TV and went to the bank and attempted to withdraw five hundred dollars from his account. The bank teller was as polite as she could be, but she still had to inform Joe that he could not withdraw five hundred dollars...he had only deposited four hundred dollars.

Joe began to be just a bit testy. "I put two hundred dollars into this account last week and I put two hundred dollars into this account three days ago, right?"

Looking at his transaction file, the teller agreed that that was correct.

"Well, according to my personal perception of mathematical truth, that adds up to five hundred dollars. I’ll take it now, please."

The teller was dumbfounded. "But, sir, everyone knows that two hundred and two hundred is only four hundred!"

Now Joe was beginning to be irate. "I’m sorry, I do not agree with the axioms upon which mathematics is based. No one can prove them to be true. I think it is exceedingly intolerant of you to insist that the popular application of mathematics is the only true one. You are imposing your belief system on me, and I do not appreciate it. All my life people have refused to consider that my viewpoint is a valid viewpoint; from kindergarten on I have been ridiculed and persecuted for my beliefs. As I see it, two plus two equals five, and you are denying the validity of my person by stubbornly denying the validity of my belief!"

The teller was beginning to be a bit nervous, now, and wondered if she should signal the security guard. However, just at that moment, a rather good-looking man in impeccable business attire stepped up and spoke to Joe.

"Do forgive me for intruding, but I couldn’t help but overhear. I must say, I entirely sympathize with your viewpoint."

Both surprised, Joe and the teller said at the same time, "You do?" The fact that Joe spoke with hopeful delight and the teller spoke with profound incredulity seemed to mean nothing to the gentleman as he continued.

"Yes, yes. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Murphy Stoffies," the gentleman said, handing Joe a business card as he continued, "My business associates and I have felt for years that the current intolerant treatment of mathematical truth must be shown to be completely unworkable for today’s society. We have opened a banking establishment especially for those who, like yourself, have been disenfranchised from society due to their mathematical views. If you would care to withdraw your funds from this traditional, narrow-minded organization and deposit them with our firm, you will find that you will be allowed complete freedom to interpret mathematical function as it best suits your pursuit of the truth. You will only have to agree with them as to your balance today, then hereafter you will be free to define your terms yourself."

Well, Joe thought that was just the best thing he’d heard in years, so he rather dismally agreed with the clerk that he could only withdraw four hundred dollars, closed his account, and accompanied Mr. Stoffies across town to the unorthodox banking establishment he’d recommended. Sure enough, one of the forms Joe signed as part of the account-opening process included the following statement: We hereby agree that the mathematical principles applied to the computation of any monies deposited in this institution, as well as any interest accrued thereon, will be solely determined by the signatory individual(s), pursuant to the declarations of such individual(s) and deferring any differences between such determinations and the popular application of mathematics to Higher Accounting, whose calculations shall not be applicable to said individual(s) so long as this institution is in valid business relationship with said individual(s). There followed some more confusing language in small print, which Joe understood to mean that whatever differences this had with the way the popular mathematical principles would compute his bank balance would be referred to an advocate who would protect him from such differences. Joe happily signed the papers, deposited his money, then promptly withdrew five hundred dollars and purchased his TV in time to watch the Super Bowl. Once again, Joe was happy. The bank seemed happy enough.

This went on for some time. Joe made his deposits regularly and regularly withdrew whatever he required to purchase whatever he wanted. His lifestyle increased gradually, until one day he was in to make his weekly deposit and ran into a gentleman who was withdrawing a large sum of money. The gentleman turned to Joe and asked him what mathematical principles he was using to regulate his account. Joe, proud of his theories, explained that he believed that two plus two equals five and operated his account accordingly. To his consternation, the gentleman laughed at him.

"My, what a simple, low-returning formula!" Then he looked at him. "Listen, son, you need to really get your teeth into this. Let me tell you what I do. You do know that in conventional, uninformed mathematics division by zero is undefined?"

Joe agreed that he had heard that, but didn’t really understand it. The gentleman smiled. "Well, all you have to do is define it yourself...say, anything divided by zero automatically doubles...or triples…or whatever, then come in and divide your holdings by zero on a regular basis. You’ll soon have more money than you’ll know what to do with!"

Joe considered this and decided it was superior to his way of manipulating his he filled out the proper paperwork and began regularly dividing his account balance by zero. Suddenly, Joe was wealthy. He purchased an executive home and a sports car. He vacationed on the Riviera. Life was good.

Until the day Joe went to the bank to divide his balance again and was directed to yet another gentleman in impeccable business attire. Joe thought nothing of the uniformed policemen standing about, until he noticed that the man who had recommended the practice of dividing by zero was in handcuffs, giving a statement to one of the policemen. Now, Joe began to be apprehensive.

"What’s going on?" He inquired of the businessman as he gave him his account number.

"Oh, it’s nothing to be alarmed at." The gentleman stated in a soothing manner. "It’s just time to settle the accounts."

Joe was puzzled. "Settle the accounts? What accounts?"

Again, the man was unruffled, "Why, the accounts that represent the sums you have spent in excess of your deposits and earnings at this institution." The gentleman typed a few numbers into his laptop computer. "Ah, yes, you have a sizeable outstanding balance."

Joe stuttered, "Outstanding balance? I should have millions in my account."

The gentleman smiled ruefully and shook his head. "Yes, that’s what everyone has said. I’m afraid you have been misinformed."

Joe was beginning to be angry. "Misinformed? What do you mean, I’ve been misinformed? It’s all nice and legal that I could determine the mathematical formulas myself."

Again, the gentleman shook his head. "I see you still don’t understand. I am the State Bank Examiner, and I’m afraid I must tell you that this establishment had no authority under the laws of our state to operate as a financial institution. In fact, the papers you signed merely authorized the officials of this establishment to take out loans in your name for the monies that you withdrew beyond that which you actually had available to you. Furthermore, according to the papers you signed, those loans are due in full upon demand. I’m afraid if you cannot pay the debt, you are guilty of fraud and liable to arrest and imprisonment."

Joe leaned over the examiner’s shoulder and read the balance he saw on the screen. All the color drained from his face and he made a little mewling sound as his knees buckled and he fell into the arms of the policeman nearest him. His jaw worked before he managed to get the words out of his mouth. " can you do this? I was told...everyone said...I didn’t have to follow the commonly accepted mathematical principles."

The bank examiner sighed. "Do you really believe those principles exist just because people have taken a fancy to them? Even the people who started this place know better than that. Mr. Stoffies is wanted in seven states for fraud and theft by deception. It is a scam – they persuade people to invest with them under the most unbelievable conditions, then run up huge debts in the names of their clients and abscond with any money the clients did not spend, leaving the ‘bank depositors’ liable for all the debts. However, the irony is that in the paperwork you signed is a small paragraph stating that you acknowledge that you are, in effect, borrowing money which you will pay back on demand when the bank is no longer in business. This ‘bank’ declared bankruptcy this morning; Mr. Stoffies and his cohorts are long gone and you," here he nodded at the other gentleman in handcuffs as he continued, "and your fellow bank customers are left with all the debts."

Joe had progressed beyond shock to anger. "But...but...that’s not fair! He said I would be allowed to apply mathematics as I understood them! What right have you to say I am not correct?"

Now the bank examiner began to lose his patience. "I am sorry that I am the one to tell you this, if you have lived all your life without anyone ever telling you before. It would have saved you much trouble had you understood this before the accounts were due." He stood up and looked Joe squarely in the eye. "The principles and axioms of common mathematics are not the result of popular preference. Mathematics is founded upon those principles and axioms because they are true. They were true before people figured them out. They will be true long after you and I have left the earth. They are true whether anyone believes them or not. One plus one will always be two. A plus B will always be the same as B plus A. It is absolutely impossible to divide anything by nothing. You chose not to accept that, to believe the lies of someone whose sole motivation was your deception, either directly or through others he had likewise deceived. He could not have deceived any of you if you had decided to believe the truth originally told to you. Now you owe a debt you cannot pay." He nodded to the policeman, who put handcuffs on Joe, reciting as he did, "You have the right to remain silent...."

The bank examiner watched as Joe, shocked again into complicity, was led away. Then he sighed sadly as he sat back down and wearily repeated, "Next case."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Prep Work - 1: The Comfortable Trap

I can't really call these lessons...more like reflections.

SHE Revolution Women's conference is a mere three weeks off.

I am extremely aware that I am not ready for it. The fallow ground needs to be broken; the callouses (which re-form with amazing speed!) softened. I'm comfortable within the bounds of normal, and that makes me frustrated with myself.

Because the more time I spend in this Christian thing, the more I realize that 'comfortable' is not a good place.

Anyway, our Staff Prayer speaker this week was one of our youth pastors. She spoke about the verse that says 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). Speaking to pastors and church staff, she pointed out that most of us have dealt with the sin issue: we know what we ought and ought not to do. But, she said, we still fall short of the glory that God has for us.

That was a new application of that verse to me and it really started me thinking. Walking in the glory of God is exciting, exhilarating, amazing and often terrifying. It is also extremely uncomfortable.

But our human nature wants to be secure and comfortable. I was reminded of Numbers chapter 32, in which the Reubenites, Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh elected to stay on the east side of the Jordan...where they were comfortable...rather than taking everything across the Jordan and settling in the land of God's promise. They'd been moving and wandering for 40 years...and now, with the promise just across the river, they decided to quit.

How often do I look at some area of my life, and, even subconsciously think, 'This is ok here,' rather than pulling up stakes and moving yet again, perhaps even for the final time, into the promise. And I stop short of the glory.

Food for thought.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've gotten lazy

*hangs head*

What has happened to my little faith blog?

One post a week ain't cuttin' it.

I went back and re-read some of my earlier posts; some of them surprise me now. Wow, I think, That was good

I don't know if I've hit middle-age mind fog, or if I've just hit such a commitment load that I can't even take time to do some self- examination and rumination anymore.

Either way, it's sad.

And I just realized I typed 'little faith blog' at the top.

Question: is it a little blog...or is it little faith?

As in, I've quit stretching to write? I've looked at the bloglines numbers and let myself get discouraged? Silly me. I should know better.


Time to shake things up a bit. I'm going to try to blog daily for a while.

And a part of me actually cringed when I wrote that. So that must mean I need it. ;)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Next Study?

Our annual women's conference at church is fast approaching...we're 4 weeks away. Already (the date is Sept. 11 & 12).

The topic this year is spiritual warfare; specifically, I think, warfare that women must wage. The name of the conference is 'SHE Revolution -- The Battleground'.

I'm really excited because the speakers are all returning favorites -- Teri Gladstone-Furr, Dawn Sweigert, and Susan Dyer; Rita Springer will be leading worship. It is going to be awesome.

So, how do I prepare my heart for this? Because I know I'll be involved in assisting in some fashion and I will not be in all sessions just as a recipient/participant, I need to do some ground-breaking in my own heart before the event begins.

So, over the next two or three weeks, I'll be doing that...and just seeing what I have to do in my heart. It may take the shape of a small, short look at Spiritual Warfare, or it may not. I don't even know yet.

But I'll find out. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Day: '09

I've decided that the first day of school feels a lot more like a new year than January 1.

The Actor is starting his junior year of high school, while The Flute Player is heading off to eighth grade. Time flies.

Actually, The Actor has to take an extra class this year to make up for the fact that the magnet program doesn't quite leave room for all the mandated classes. So he has to be at school an hour early. That's going to pinch our mornings just a bit, and, since he can't ride the shuttle bus, My Sweet Baboo will drop him off at the magnet school as he goes to's fortunately not that far out of his way, for all that it is on the other end of town.

The Flute Player has one more year to be close enough to school to walk/ride her bike. So, for the last time, we observed the 'first day' tradition and I rode my bike w/her.

It's gone by awfully fast....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Long winded answer....

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I promised Jessica that I'd expound a bit on some thoughts I posted in Hard Questions last week; specifically, about 'not loving our lives to the death' being one of the weapons in the hands of believers.

That thought came from Revelations 12:
Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (verses 10-11, NIV)

Three things are required for us to overcome the enemy -- the blood of Jesus, the word of testimony, and not allowing the fear of death to cause us to recant either one.

There are times when God allows the enemy to take the life of those who truly follow God and put their trust in Him. Job's children come to mind first...all ten of them. David's son, for whom he prayed and fasted, died (I don't think that was a punishment, but I'll save the reasons why for another day). In Hebrews 11, we are reminded of Others [who] were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated -- the world was not worthy of them. (vs. 35b- 38a, NIV).

There were times in Jesus' ministry when he healed every sick person; there were times when he healed only a few...or even just one... among many. Sometimes it was because of the lack of faith in the people; but other times he healed where no faith was evident (the cripple by the pool of Bethesda comes to mind).

Yet, the Bible seems to teach us that we are to pray for and expect miraculous healings on a regular basis. So how can we account for what appears to be a discrepancy?

I'm going to be honest here and admit that I am shaking in my shoes now because I've realized I have jumped in way over my head. But I am not going to back out and not bear with me. I'm just writing as someone who struggles with the same questions; I'm not trying to be authoritative, just share what I'm hanging onto when life doesn't make sense.

The first thing I have to remind myself of is that there is a much, much bigger picture than what I see. One of my favorite illustrations is to talk about a style of painting called pointillism, in which small, seemingly random dots of color are applied to a canvas to make a picture(actually, this is the way images on your computer screen are displayed, as well...those dots are called 'pixels'). If you stand where you can see the entire painting, it all works together and is something your brain can interpret as an image. However, if you just look at a tiny piece of the canvas, all you see is...a mess of color. It doesn't resolve into any kind of image. It doesn't make sense. If all the dots in that small piece tried to arrange themselves into some order that made sense to them, it would not work with the whole picture. In the same way, God sees Everything...the end from the beginning. He knows what has to happen at A to affect B so that C is positioned years later to cause D to take place. Yet we, as the little dots, keep insisting that what happens in our bit of the picture makes sense to us.

The second thing that I consider is that we have a worldy view of if it were a horrible thing for a believer. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not trying to trivialize it. But, if we really believe, as Paul did, that it is preferable to be away from the body and at home with the Lord, (1 Cor. 5:8), we cannot believe it to be so horrible. Yet we tend to speak and behave as if the worst possible outcome for any scenario would be death. For one who refuses the grace of God, that certainly is true. And, for those bereaved, it is also true, because death is separation. But, for the person who actually steps through death into the presence of go from knowing and understanding so little, to get to 'see face to face...know fully...' (1 Cor 13:12) has to be awesome. If someone has truly accomplished all that God had set for them to do (which may or may not be what we perceive they are to do), how can we be angry if He says, 'Come on home!'?

The third thing I have to remember is that Jesus told us we would have trials and tribulations. He warned us that life would be hard. God guaranteed us we would not understand. But we are promised that He will never leave us, and that all things work together for our good. Not our immediate happiness...our eternal 'good'.

'Not loving life' doesn't just mean being willing to die physically for Christ; it also means not clinging to my personal image...all that stuff. Dying of humiliation is something I'm familiar with, but I confess I have let the enemy shut me up at times for fear of it. I still care too much about the opinion of other people.

But once that fear of losing one's life -- either literally or figuratively -- is gone, then there literally is nothing the enemy can do to us. How can he defeat people who are not afraid of him?

The blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony will ultimately defeat him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now What....

I talked a little about life dreams on the Jubilee posts...even mentioned one or two.

But there is one dream that I haven't talked about here at all...

There is a Christianized musical version of 'A Christmas Carol' that is performed by churches around the country at Christmas time; we saw it years ago at a local church, and, in '04 and '05, our church did it.

It's a lot of fun, but, well, to be honest there are some things about that script that just...bugged me. Anachronistic elements, some things held over from the original text that didn't really work with the new setting (how can you tell an angel that 'there's more of gravy than of grave about you'?) awkward combining of characters into one person...well, anyway, most of those things didn't bother anyone else so I just kind of tried to ignore them. But they bugged me.

Then I got an idea to rewrite some of the scenes/elements that bothered me the most. And, over a few months, I re-wrote a number of things (the angel became a 'foul food phantom', for instance)...some changes were minor, some were complete resettings of the scenes. We have an unalterable video narration, which meant I couldn't change anything that would require changes to that, so I was a bit restricted in how much changing I could do.

And I got the bulk of the angst written out. But...I don't know if those scenes will be usable, even if we do the show again. It was my problem w/the original, not anyone else's. So I need to be ready to accept as fact a decision to stick to the original script.

But even that is not the real dream. After I wrote all of that out, I found that I still couldn't leave it alone. So I went back and pulled out my Dickens and began a fresh rewrite...a new re-telling of the story, with the Christian repentance theme in it. Oh, and music.

Last night, I finally finished the lyrics for the last song I left space for. Aside from some editing tweaks that are sure to be needed, the new script...I called it 'God Bless Us, Everyone'... is finished.

But -- I don't know if it's even performable. It requires a large cast (including a fair number of men, which is difficult to cast in a church!); many microphones and some pretty quick scene changes in which one end of the stage is lit, with action, while the scene is being switched on the unlit other end. And there is a video narrative as well, although it could be done live on a remote small stage. In other words, I don't know if it's logistically feasible or not. So it probably needs some collaboration from Folks Who Know About Stuff Like That. At the very least, it needs a composer to put music to the lyrics.

A few people at church have read it in its earlier drafts...responses have varied from polite to warmly enthusiastic. But no direction on what to do next.'s the dream: I want to do something with it. But I don't know what...or how...

But, you know, if it really is a God-dream, I have a feeling that will work itself out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Squeezing another thing on the plate....

Up till now, our Missionettes program at church has only gone through grade 8. We have Royal Ranger classes available for boys through high school, but for one reason or another we have not been able to get the class for the older girls ('Girls Only') going.

Which meant that we could not have any girls who could persevere in the program and earn the Gold Medal.

That's changing. But it looks like I'm going to be the one teaching not only the Friends (middle-school) class on Wednesdays, but also the high school class on Sunday mornings.

Sounds like a lot, but back in the day I used to teach youth Sunday School, then a different lesson for youth group on Wednesday night, so this will not be so far out of my experience. I can do it for a while...and hopefully we'll have someone step forward at some point pretty soon to take one class or the other.

We're starting the new class on August 9. Right now, I know I will have one student, although there may be others once word gets out that we're doing it.

The girls ought to have the chance to complete the program. Now, they will.