Friday, March 30, 2007

Some Blog Posts I've Appreciated This Week

Lisa writes has an excellent post about youth today. May we parents take heed!

Pulpit magazine has an excellent list of 10 things parents should teach their children from Proverbs. I want to begin memorizing some of these verses with our boys.

Rabbit has a very funny guest post by her dog. I laughed so hard because I think “Chloe Whiskers Farkle McSparklepants, Fox Terrier Extraordinaire” and Oliver P. Dog, mini-schnauzer of the Sphinx pose are kindred doggy spirits if ever there were some.

Carla has a thought-provoking post about how to take criticism humbly that really hit home with me today.

A Complete Thought has a great post about the seeker type of marketing of the church that was very thoughtful.

Kim at Lifesong had an excellent post about healing and faith. Highly recommended reading.

Dinosaur Discussions

My boys are really into dinosaurs right now. Lots and lots of questions. Most little boys go through the dinosaur phase, don’t they? I got nervous when my oldest son got interested in dinosaurs. The reason I got nervous is because every book from the library talked about the millions of years ago that dinosaurs lived, and that they lived millions of years before man. J is a very smart kid. I knew he would want to know how that fit with the Bible’s account of creation, and I’d have to have a good, biblical explanation for him. I knew that I believed the Bible is true. I also knew I didn’t know how the dinosaurs fit in – I knew they must fit, just not how – especially what I’d been taught about dinosaurs in school. I did NOT believe in Darwinian evolution – it is completely and absolutely incompatible with the Bible, and the way I’d gotten through school was just to give the answers wanted on the test, but continue to believe the Bible to be true, even though I wasn’t sure what to do with dinosaurs. But now I was a mom with a scary-smart little kid wanting answers, and, “I don’t know,” is never good enough for him.

At first, before J could read, I “edited” some of the more technical books for him. I also told him that we know the Bible is true, so somehow the dinosaurs had to fit, and I didn’t believe the earth is as old as some of the scientists say, but that was where I had to stop. Then I found Answers in Genesis. Through reading their website, which points back to the Bible, and after lots of prayer, I finally have answers about the dinosaurs and am confident when talking with the boys about them. About that time I also started teaching a children’s discipleship class at church using a curriculum called “Firm Foundations,” which teaches the Bible chronologically. One thing that was stressed over and over in the first part of those lessons was that only God was present at the beginning, at creation. Therefore, only God can speak definitively on what happened and how it happened. And we have God’s word in the Bible. So, anything that we hear that doesn’t line up with the Bible, is just someone’s opinion or theory, no matter how scientific or sure they sound.

After reading Genesis and praying and reading some of the material from these sources, I teach my children that we must believe what the Bible says. The land animals were created on Day 6. Therefore, so were the dinosaurs. Sometimes an answer is so obvious, but we just have the millions of years so drilled into us and so widely accepted without question that it’s hard to let it go. Death is the consequence of sin. Through Adam, sin entered the perfect creation. Therefore, there cannot be millions of years of death prior to sin. The first death that happened was the animals whose skins God used to cover Adam and Eve. This is the first picture we are given of the cost of sin and the need for a blood sacrifice to cover our sin and shame. Ultimately, Jesus paid the price in full with His own sacrifice on the cross, and those who place their faith in Him are cleansed from sin and clothed in His righteousness.

Also, in what is becoming something of a theme with me, I must again say that the way we have traditionally taught the Bible, for the most part, is wrong – especially the way we teach our children. Too often we just teach isolated stories as simple moral object lessons, out of order, with no way for the children to put it all together in context as the cohesive history that it is. I especially think we do not teach the Flood correctly. It was not until I read Genesis for myself that I learned that while Noah did take two of every kind of unclean animal aboard the ark, he was actually commanded to take seven of certain kinds of clean animal. Also, all those years of having the Noah’s Ark story told in Sunday School, I had this image of the 40 days of rain being like some kind of normal, but very strong, rain storm. When I actually read the Genesis account of the worldwide flood, I came to realize this was a cataclysm the likes of which had never before been seen and which has never been seen since. The Bible says the fountains of the deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened. This was not just a rainstorm. It altered the geography and climate from then on.

Filtered through the view of a literal, global, cataclysmic flood, much of what we can now observe makes much more sense. I believe this is why the earth looks old. I also believe this is how the fossil record came into being – animals and plants were buried very quickly during that great flood. With the climate being so altered, and as the human population grew, it makes sense that some animals became extinct. We see animals becoming extinct even today.

Because of Adam’s sin, we live in a fallen world subject to the curse. It is the curse brought upon the earth through sin that has brought about aging and decay, for the very ground was cursed because of man’s sin. Only through Christ will the creation be restored when He returns in all His glory. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. He has the absolute right to reign.

I have heard some technical mathematical arguments for how the day in Chapter 1 of Genesis could be a day at one point far away and many, many years here on earth, but that just doesn’t hold for me, because I’ve learned that the Hebrew word, “yom,” when used in the way it is used in the first chapters of Genesis, means a literal, 24-hour day. I’m not saying my finite mind completely understands all there is to understand about the beginning and about the infinite nature of God. Those are topics that, frankly, blow my mind when I try to comprehend them. After all, God’s thoughts are much higher than my thoughts. I’m just saying that I’ve chosen to just accept what is clearly said literally. While I won’t break fellowship or debate with a true believer who, while still not espousing evolution, does disagree with me about how old the earth is, I would rather stand on the practice of believing and teaching Genesis quite literally, than to run the danger of adding to or subtracting from His Word, because only God was present at creation. Somehow, when I get to glory and I know as I am known, I think that will be ok

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ya'll May Not Appreciate This, But I Do.....

This must be my day to prove myself wrong on the e-mail hatred thing, but one of my old college roommates just sent me this, and I think it's kinda neat, too. To be fair, I don't think it's a forward, I think she just did this herself. She used to work for the Gator Athletic Association, so she's a huge fan.....

These are the teams in the Final Four. Look at the first letter of each School. What does it spell??

Ohio State

GO UF!!!!

Something That Made Me Laugh

Okay, okay. I know I just ranted a few posts ago about how much I don’t like e-mail forwards, but this one really was funny. And I just really needed something light to post at this moment. I’m sharing this that my friend sent to me and adding a few annoying comments of my own. I’m working on some heavier stuff for later, but for now, enjoy a bit of a laugh on me:

The 'Rules of the South' are as follows!!! (Keeping in mind, I’m not really a GRITS, but this is funny, I don’t care where you call home.)

1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

2. Turn your cap right, your head isn't crooked.

3. Let's get this straight; it's called a "gravel road." I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way. (No, I don’t really have a pickup truck – but most of my friends around here do!)

4. They are cattle. That's why they smell to you. They smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? I-10 goes east and west, I-95 goes north and south. Pick one. (Hee, hee! Living in Florida, we called the snowbirds who complained about everything Southern “Floridiots.” Not nice, I know…..)

5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $250,000 cotton strippers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

6. So every person in the south waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

7. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of doves are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time. (Constant cell phone use, one of my biggest pet peeves – no offense meant if you just love your cell phone, but don’t get me started…)

8. Yeah, we eat catfish & crawfish. You really want sushi &caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.

9. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

10. No, there's no "vegetarian special" on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey. (For some reason, I found this one hysterically funny. Perhaps it was just too late in the evening when I read it.)

11. When we fill out a table, there are 3 main dishes: meats, vegetables, and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup! (Yep, almost no meal is complete without ketchup at our house.)

Oh, yeah.... We don't care what you folks in Cincinnati call that stuff you eat... IT AIN'T REAL CHILI!! (Okay, I’ll admit I really do like Skyline Chili – it’s just yummy. But, when I’m craving CHILI, I’m wanting the red, spicy, chili powder real stuff.)

12. You bring "coke" into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice. You bring "Mary Jane" into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.

13. College and High School Football are as important here as the Lakers and the Knicks, and a lot more fun to watch.

14. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards -- it spooks the fish.

15. Colleges? We have them all over. We have State Universities, Universities, and Vo-techs. They come outta there with an education plus a love for God and country, and they still wave at everybody when they come home for the holidays. (Go Gators! Sorry, just had to get that little cheer out of my system for a moment.)

16. We have more folks in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. So don't mess with us. If you do, you will get whipped by the best.

18. The south is the greatest!! If you are from the south you are part of the best people in the USA!! (Okay, I’m not part of the whole “the South will rise again,” mentality, but I will agree that people are generally pretty nice around here. It’s not so bad living in the South. I’m learning to bloom here, so to speak, even though the other day I realized my soon-to-be-6-year-old is beginning to pick up the slightest trace of a southern accent. Considering D and I do not have that accent, we find that a little disconcerting, but to be expected. I can only wonder how Boo will escape those broad vowels when she learns to talk! But there are worse things, I think.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Be of Sober Mind

1 Peter 1:13-2:3

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because

‘All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the LORD endures forever.’

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

The New Testament has lots of warnings to those who profess Christ to be sure of their calling – to be sure they are in the faith. It is extremely sobering to contemplate those verses in Matthew 7:21-23 that many will think they are saved, but the Lord will say to depart for He never knew them. Not just a few, but many. Our hope must, must, must be in Christ alone. Not in our own works or attempts to be righteous. All our hope in our own goodness must be crucified with Christ so that it is He who lives in us. There is no room for my own pride in this thought. All my sin, shame, pride, filthy rags of attempted righteousness I cast down at His feet and cry, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Notice the last verse of the passage from 1 Peter at the beginning of this post. There is an “if” there. If we have indeed tasted that the Lord is gracious, we will lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking, and will desire the pure milk of the word. Through the Holy Spirit we will obey the truth. Holiness will begin to characterize the life of those who have experienced God’s gift of grace – salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The gift of grace is so very costly – nothing less than the very blood of Jesus Christ bought my redemption – that I do not want to treat it flippantly. I want to live a life that glorifies Him and points others to Him. These are serious thoughts. If I lack a burning desire to be holy as He is holy, and if my love for the word He has given grows cold, or if I find I would rather impress myself with supposedly clever discussions about the Bible or argue with its truths rather than simply obey it, or if I would seek to rationalize away conviction when I find I’ve not been obeying it instead of getting on my knees in repentance, I would be wise to examine myself to be sure I’m in the faith. This is eternally important. We would do well to spend much less time playing games with our ideas of how to “do” church and spend much more time sobering up our thinking as we seek to worship our holy God in love and gratitude for the grace He has bestowed upon us undeserving sinners and living lives characterized by that grace.

Lord God, our Father, I’m humbled and grateful for Your gift of grace to me. You alone are worthy of praise – let my heart and mind be filled with praise and love for You that will be reflected in how I live the days You grant me here in this life. Please teach me to gird up my mind so that I will be sober-minded enough to rest my hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. May I be an obedient child, no longer conformed to the lusts of this world, but growing in holiness, for You are holy. I belong to You, I have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, may I live a life that honors that calling. Please keep my mind from wandering and let my eyes be fixed on the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. In my own strength, I cannot do this! Holy Spirit, fill me with the strength and desire to obey Your word. You have redeemed me from bondage to sin and freed me to live for Your glory. Help me to lay aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking and to desire the pure milk of the word. And, Lord, please grant me the desire to live holy in all I do so that I will bring glory to You, and let me be ever ready to give an answer for the hope that is in me. Embolden me to not be silent when You prompt me to speak. Grant me the wisdom and passion to teach my children Your truth with my words, and, so much more importantly, with my actions. And please lead me to be a loving helpmate to the husband You have blessed me with and please guard his heart and mind and strengthen us both to continue growing in Your grace and to make our home a light for You, as well. Amen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Something to Smile About

We had a wedding at our church today. This was a really special day. The two people who were married today are an exciting testimony of how Jesus Christ changes lives. Both have come from some real troubled pasts. The man was homeless before he met a man in our church who has a real heart and gift for ministering to people who are, for lack of a better term, down-and-out. He shared with him the Gospel, helped him to clean up through a local ministry organization, and later his family opened their home to him, and gave him a job with their shrimp (shrump if you live around here) and seafood business. It has been so amazing to see the change in him over the past several years.

So, when the church this morning was totally packed out to witness this man and woman who have been made new in Christ join their lives together in Christian marriage, it was a tear-jerker, let me tell you. The pastor gave the Gospel message during the ceremony as well, and the smiles on the couple’s faces were just so sweet. In fact, the woman couldn’t quit grinning from ear to ear the entire time. And when they read their vows to each other, I dare say there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. When they were pronounced man and wife, the whole place erupted in applause that went on and on. I’m telling you, this was a special day, and I’m so glad I got to be there to witness it.

It is an awesome thing to see two people who have traveled such a rough road before coming to know Christ start a new life together and to see their church family who has witnessed the change and invested in their lives as they have grown in Christ come along beside them and rejoice with them in such a real way. The pastor also charged us as a congregation to be praying for them as they begin their life together. What a nice day!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Good Reading

Upon some reflection time yesterday, I think what I need to do regarding my “blogging problem” which I mentioned earlier is to just set myself some realistic limits on how much time and when I will allow myself to spend surfing around other blogs. So, as long as I can keep to the limits and not steal time from my kids and from other things that need to be done, I can still blog.

So, with that little bit of bloggity business out of the way, I wanted to say a little about some neat reading material that came in the mail on Wednesday and that the boys and I are thoroughly enjoying reading together.

First I need a little introduction to explain where I’m coming from. I grew up in a large Southern Baptist church with good preaching and teaching, and my parents are serious about doctrine and Bible teaching, meaning that I got some great informal training as I overheard and participated in the discussions they would have around the house, at dinner and in the car. So I am very blessed to have had that kind of biblical grounding from early on, and by God’s grace He has allowed a love for His Word to be a part of my life since I was young. So please don’t take what I’m about to say as knocking my past in any way at all.

But something I’ve become aware of about Southern Baptists, at least in my own experience, is that while we may be a people of the Book (at least we used to be….), we are not really a people of books. What in the world am I going on about, you may well ask? Well, Baptists (at least the church I was growing up in at the time, anyway) have been pretty good at educating us Biblically, and that is, obviously, vitally, extremely, and eternally important. (Please, I’m not addressing any of the current problems here, and, yes, I’m aware there are a good many….) But something I think I missed out on is education about the history of the Church through the ages. Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, D. L. Moody, and Billy Sunday are about the furthest back in history I remember anyone ever mentioning. Which means that this little Baptist girl had never heard about some of the “good dead theologians” (thanks, Kim!) until I grew up and broadened my horizons a bit. Though I embrace whole-heartedly the idea of Sola Scriptura, (that the inerrant Scripture is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience, and that the Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured), there is nothing wrong with reading what people in the past have had to say about what they’ve learned from the Bible! And I think we miss something important when we know nothing about the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. We don’t always appreciate the high sacrifices that many have paid for their faith. I have known virtually nothing about the martyrs and gifted theologians that God has used in the past. Though we heard about more modern missionaries often (and that’s a good thing, don’t misunderstand the point I’m trying to make), I had very little comprehension of Church history beyond fairly recent Southern Baptist history.

And I had very little comprehension that there was much of a Christian community outside of the Southern Baptist Convention, and had no idea about the Church calendar kinds of things except some vague notion that Lent is when the school cafeteria all of a sudden began offering fish as a lunch choice on Fridays and my Catholic friends at school would talk about giving up soda or chocolate for Lent. I also had no idea about Advent until I met D, who went to a Missouri Synod Lutheran school as a kid, and then when I went to work for an (admittedly quite liberal) Lutheran organization and was shocked when Pastor Bob (my boss) mentioned that they didn’t sing songs with “Hallelujah” in them during services during Lent until Easter. That was an alien concept to me. I’m not at all advocating a return to Roman Catholic rituals, here. I’m just saying that we Baptists pretty much tend to be rugged individualists when it comes to knowing anything about other groups of Christians and about the past, and that's a shame.

That very long introduction is to explain why I’m so excited to be reading something that, I’m sure for many, is a classic of Christian reading material, which I’ve never really taken opportunity to read. This brings us to my joy when answering the doorbell on Wednesday afternoon and seeing that the package I had ordered from Truth For Life had arrived. Along with Alistair Begg’s sermon series on Hebrews were the Pilgrim’s Progress and Little Pilgrim’s Progress books I’d ordered. I’ve heard so many people talk about Pilgrim’s Progress, and I’ve wanted to read it for a long time, so when I saw this while ordering the sermon series, I thought we’d try it. The Little Pilgrim’s Progress is a retelling of the original in a way that is simpler and more understandable for children, and the Pilgrim’s Progress is an updated version that has modernized some of the English. (For you purists out there, sorry! But they’ve kept it very close to the original that John Bunyan wrote.)

Anyway, the kids were quite intrigued by their new book, and when I opened the package, J said, “Can I look at it now? I love new books!” He is truly a kid after his mommy’s heart, I tell you! So, that evening we started reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress together, and J and M were so excited by the story they didn’t want me to stop, so we kept on past bed time (only a little bit, though). The thing that is really exciting is that J is getting the symbolism. When Little Pilgrim meets Worldly, and Worldly says he can get rid of his burden another way than Evangelist told him if he’ll just go down the other path, J piped up, “But, Mom, his burden will get heavier! He’s going down the wrong path, so he’s sinning more! It will just get heavier and he won’t be able to get rid of it!” Bingo. Of course, when that chapter ended with Little Pilgrim starting toward the wrong path, I said, “Well, we were going to stop here, but we can’t leave Little Pilgrim going the wrong way. Let’s read one more and find out what happens next.”

So, I’m really enjoying reading this with the boys, and I’m thrilled at the discussions we’ve already been able to have about what the Bible says as a result of explaining the symbolism to them. And thanks to my dad and mom and their insatiable love of reading and desire to know and love God and learn His Word, and to certain bloggers like Kim, Kim, and Connie, among others, who have mentioned reading good Christian writing on their blogs, and the crew at Pyromaniacs who have introduced me to Charles Spurgeon’s writings, my appetite is being whetted to delve into more discoveries of treasured classic Christian writers in the near future.

And, now that I’ve taken advantage of Boo’s nap time for this writing, I must publish this and walk away from the computer until this evening when children are asleep and I have a bit of free time in order to honor my new resolve not to fritter away the day. Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Regular Blogging May Resume in a Few Days

Blog posts have been a little sporadic around here lately. I seem to be in one of those slumps that occur when I’m functioning on too little sleep. For the past 2 weeks, Boo has taken to waking up two or three times in the middle of the night and screaming for a while each time. I’ve gone and checked on her, and nothing is wrong that I can determine, she’s just awake and doesn’t want to be awake. We’ve turned off the baby monitor completely, because she’s loud enough that I hear her and wake up without it. It finally occurred to me last night that I had read once that some babies this age can be scared at night when it is too dark in their rooms, so I, not being a big night light fan, put on a little light in her room. Last night she woke up once, fussed a bit, went back to sleep, and slept on through the night. I’m hoping that is all she needed, for I’m slipping back into the kind of tired that I experienced when she was a newborn - that fuzzy-headed, can't think straight all day kind of tired.

I also am facing the dilemma that even when not writing on my blog, I am far too easily tempted to be drawn into the time-wasting computer black hole of reading blogs throughout the day. In fact, I find that I can while away much of the day surfing around on the computer, and this is too much of a distraction in my life. Too much that I need to be doing is not being done when I squander days like that.

And I finally made it back to the gym today, which I’m hoping will help me restore my physical energy. I know that the Bible says that bodily exercise profits little, so it’s not my end-all-be-all for sure, but when I let that go and spend too much time sitting at the computer instead, then I find I don’t have the energy physically to do what really does matter, so I’m glad to get back on track exercising a few days a week, too.

And, I also find that it is far, far too easy to spend vast quantities of time writing and reading about praying, reading my Bible, and praying for revival, but find that I am spending far, far too little time actually doing those things. Writing about them is fine, but only if that is overflow from what is actually going on in my heart and life. If all I’m doing is writing about it, then I’m a blatantly lazy, ineffective hypocrite and I might as well turn off the computer and hang it up. Which is why the posting has become a little more sporadic. I need to be spending more time praying, reading my Bible, spending quality time with my family and doing the things around the house that need doing and spending less time thinking about and writing and reading blogs – even though so many blogs are blessings to read. Just saying I need to regain a little perspective, that’s all.

So, I’m not actually quitting at this time, but I may be slowing down a bit. I’m sure there will be spurts of blog activity when I have something I just need to say, but I need to get away from the computer more and devote much more time to real life so that what I write will be more meaningful rather than just writing something just because I feel the tyranny of the blog that makes me think I need to write a new thing every single day. And I have two fairly lengthy posts that are currently sitting in my draft folder in Word on my computer that may never see the blog. Every time I think I’m ready to post them, there is a check in my spirit about why I want to post this particular topic that has been meaningful to me in my daily Bible reading. Until I have a peace that it is something I really need to post on the blog, perhaps it is just something that needs to stay in the personal journal for the moment. We’ll see. So, I’ve said all that to say that for the moment, I’m taking a little blog break for a day or two. That should give me time to re-evaluate why I blog in the first place and to just devote time to my real life that I have, sinfully and selfishly, been wasting. Perhaps once I’ve taken some time off, I’ll be refreshed to have a more balanced blogging perspective rather than the all-blogs, all-day approach that just doesn’t work, though there is some awfully good reading out there. I just don’t need to try to tackle it all at once.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring Fever

Some more tell-tale signs that spring is finally here:

Yellow pollen everywhere - coating all the cars, all over the road in large bright yellow "puddles," and on all the furniture and countertops inside the house!

Stinging marsh gnats/sandfleas swarming in the morning and evening hours - just when it is nice enough to want to sit outside on the front porch rocking chairs, which are also coated in yellow pollen.

Everyone has the spring crud - coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, stuffy noses.

The dogwoods and azaleas are beautifully in bloom - color bursting everywhere creating an absolute feast for the eyes.

Buds appearing on the pear, peach and apple trees we planted last year.

Basketball on the TV - hubby really likes college basketball.

This comment at dinner from oldest son, J: "I wish it was summer!" Meanwhile, I was thinking because he's ready for summer break and no more school, but then he continued: "Then my nose wouldn't be stuffy or runny, I wouldn't be coughing, I'd just be plain old regular me!"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Prayer This Saturday Evening

Psalm 67

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us,
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the people praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You,
Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth.

Let the people praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Then the earth shall yield her increase;
God, our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

As we prepare our hearts to gather together with other believers tomorrow, may we seek Your glory and honor alone, oh, Lord. May we worship in spirit and in truth with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – everyday, this is not just a Sunday faith. Let Your servants open the Word and speak forth what You would have them speak with boldness, and let the people have ears and hearts to hear. Teach me, Father, to learn to be slow to speak and slow to anger with those I love so much. Help me to remember in the moments of frustration that a soft answer turns away wrath. Let my life match my confession of faith, through Your strength, my Savior. Lord Jesus, it is in Your righteousness alone that I place my trust. You are the hope that anchors my soul. Please let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, I pray – each day, but especially as we gather together to worship as a body of believers in the morning. No matter what else happens around me, let my worship be acceptable to You. Please forgive me and turn back my affections when I forget where my focus needs to be, and that is on Christ alone. And as we worship You in spirit and truth, may we begin to truly live lives that honor You and point others to Jesus. Help us to shine forth Your light to all the nations so that as people come to saving faith in Christ their voices will be added to the glorious anthem of praise. Amen.

Bloggity, Blog, Blog

When Jules finds herself in a blogging slump, she decides to share a remedy with the rest of us. Yes, I’m raising my hand, too, since I’ve been on the very brink of taking a blogging break for a while due to a slump myself. Thanks, Jules for blogging material for one more post!

What made you start blogging?
I had been reading several blogs for a while and would talk to my husband about what I was reading. He finally said that he thought what I was saying had just as much merit as what I was telling him I’d read, so I should start my own blog. At the time, I was so timid about the whole internet thing that I wouldn’t even leave comments at the blogs I read. Once I had left a few and gained a little more confidence, I jumped in with my own blog last October. I really meant it to be a kind of online journal of my thoughts, never really thinking anyone would read it until I happened to mention to my parents that I had started it and they began reading. I also started leaving a comment now and then on blogs I liked to read – each time wondering why in the world I had done it, for I still wasn’t sure how I felt about anyone else reading my thoughts. And now, here I am blogging away and not as worried about you "people out there" who may be reading, though I’m still amazed anyone would want to read my ramblings.

What blogging host was your first?

How many different hosts have you tried?
Only one. Blogger is free and user-friendly enough that I haven’t had too much trouble. I’m not the most technologically minded person, but it’s easy enough if you know how to use help and how to search around the internet for help – or ask new blogging friends how they do things.

How long did it take you to figure out how to install items in your sidebar?
Not too long, but I’m still not very good at it – I’ve deleted things and later wished I could get them back but can’t remember how I got them in the first place. I tend towards the sparse in my decorating tastes and that carries over in my blogging.

Do you blog on a desktop or a laptop?

PC or Mac?

What’s your biggest blogging “don’t”?
Only one? Don’t get involved in brou-ha-has at other people’s blogs. I don’t want the trolls bothering me on mine with their pet issues and don’t intend to get drawn into fruitless arguing where I won’t change someone’s mind and they won’t change mine, so I don’t go there at other sites. I look at blogging this way: it is the author’s blog. They can say what they want. You are probably not going to change anyone’s mind in their comments section – especially if you comment arrogantly. If you don’t like it, blogging is inexpensive, start your own and type away! I also won’t let comments stay in my section that I think may lead someone astray biblically – those I will probably answer or delete. I also will answer or delete a comment that seems to distort the message I intended for my original post. Because some things are eternally important, I feel a real responsiblity to be very careful about what I write in my posts – so another don’t for me on my blog is that I do not want to write something that would lead anyone who may stumble across it into error spiritually. Also, I try not to leave terribly long comments on anyone else’s blog – we bloggers tend to get our pet issues and the anonymity of the medium can lead to arrogance in commenting sometimes.

Oh, and when disagreeing, I don't think it's ever right to literally tear someone apart. The clear fundamentals of the faith that are essential to salvation must be articulated well and held firm on, but there are issues that aren't essentials and aren't as clear that true believers can honestly disagree over, and I hate to see name-calling and bashing over these kinds of nonessential issues when a kind word in season or polite discussion was all that was truly needed (like, for example, the battle over how to view eschatology raging around the blogosphere at the moment (Carla has a nice post on this, by the way) - and, no, I'm not getting into that one at the moment! Sometimes we just need to step back and take a breath before getting all bent out of shape over things that aren't essential to salvation). If we write a post where we intend to deal with an issue where scripture is being misused or practices are being brought into the church and called Christian but are actually unbiblical, we do need to stand for the truth, but we need to watch our tone as we do so. I try to watch my tone in comments and posting as much as possible. Kindness, even when disagreeing strongly, needs to be a rule in this medium as well, since I want my behavior to line up with my confession of faith in all areas of my life. My blogging ought to bring honor to Christ, not dishonor.

What’s your favorite blogging topic?
I pretty much write about things I’ve been thinking about. Sometimes my family or something that happens around town, sometimes more serious things that I’m thinking about regarding church, Bible study or current events/issues. I try not to intentionally tweak "pet issue people" and I don’t talk about politics. That’s just not what my blog is about. I also try not to spill too much personal information that might embarrass my kids or anyone else.

What’s your biggest blogging frustration?
I agree with Jules that not knowing the tone, facial expression, inflections, or assumptions that a commenter is coming in with can hamper discussion. Blogging is a form of discussion at times, but not really a very good one due to the limitations of the medium. I’ve seen comment threads on some blogs turn ugly where they might not have if the conversants had been sitting down face to face over a cup of coffee (tea in my case). I also get very irritated when reading a comment or post where it is obvious that the writer is either deliberately or unintentionally misinterpreting or distorting what someone else has said. Sometimes, as a third party watching these discussions take place, I want to step in as a mediator and say, "Wait a minute, did you mean this the way it came across or not? Is this really what you meant by what you said, because here’s how Person B is insisting on perceiving it, but it seems like you really meant something else." Instead, they tend to get inflammatory and wild because there is deliberate (it sure seems so, anyway) misrepresentation. No, I’m not thinking of a specific example, but this is just something I’ve observed while watching some of these kinds of discussions develop. Was that a rant? Sorry...I just am not a debater, and it tends to make my skin crawl to read the obvious tweaking that goes on out there. I’ll stand up for things I write, and correct error when I become aware of it in my posts, but I don’t intend to go around and around around with anyone, especially if it seems they just want to argue. Let’s face it, some people just like the argument for argument’s sake alone, and they love the thrill of winning a debate – whether they are actually right or not.

What’s been your biggest blessing from blogging?
The friends I’ve met. It’s been a blessing to find other bloggers who hold to the truth of the Bible and have a genuine love for Jesus, and articulate it well. I’ve learned a good deal and been encouraged to study some things out for myself, and that’s a good thing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Hate Good-Byes

One of the hardest things about living where I live is that we are having to learn to be very good at saying, “Good-bye,” to dear friends. This town is surrounded by 3 military bases, so the majority of the people we interact with are here three or four years before they either get out of the military or are transferred – both of which usually mean they leave town, because we know very few people who actually choose to live here! D and I were talking yesterday about how if these military bases are ever closed, this town will absolutely shrivel up and die. There is a historic downtown, and it’s pretty here, but not enough for a tourist draw alone. The military is basically the backbone of this town’s economy and the reason for much of the tourism.

Last night we had dinner with some friends who are leaving for San Antonio today. I managed not to cry last night, but I am crying as I type this. Ya’ll, I’m going to miss this young couple! They are the last of that original group of young couples who were part of the Sunday School class that D took over a couple of years ago. They are part of that first group that we had over for Thanksgiving that year since none of us had family in the area. We do have one couple left, but they came in later, so with Shanna and Alan moving, it feels like a bittersweet ending of sorts.

While I am so happy for them, because they are happy to be leaving this town and moving closer to their families and to a place where they can actually afford to buy a house and not be hampered by the way-out-of-whack housing market we have here (this town thinks quite highly of itself, I tell you), I am so sad for those of us who are left behind. It was neat to watch that group of friends bond; they were all in that newly-wed, just starting to have kids stage together, and they formed friendships that will withstand the separation of living in different states. They already go back and forth visiting each other. And I’m glad we got to share their friendship as well, though we didn’t have quite the bond with them that they had with each other since they kind of tended to view us as older mentors or something, but I’m so glad we got to know that whole group of people for the short time they were with us.

Shanna and I taught VBS together one summer and she cried with us when we experienced the two miscarriages that happened while we lived here. And Alan bonded with and wrestled with my boys and just all around acted like a guy with them while D was away in Iraq and they needed that extra male influence. They rejoiced with us when we shared that we were expecting little Boo. And we got to turn around and rejoice with them when they learned soon after that they were expecting their first child. Shanna provided some meals when Boo was born, and we got to do the same for them when their little girl was born last December. We’ve so enjoyed getting to know them and be friends with them during the three years we’ve all been in this town.

So, last night we found ourselves driving an hour to the town that actually is a real tourist spot in our county (and therefore doesn’t need the military bases to be something in its own right) to meet the other couple that is now left alone with us in our Sunday School class and Shanna and Alan at the restaurant they chose so they could have good crab legs one more time before they leave for Texas. I know I’m sad that they are leaving, but I also know that the other young couple, C. and S., will miss Shanna and Alan even more than we will. They have a real bond in age and stage of life, and I know C. is crying today, too. I also know that S. is keeping his eyes open for a job somewhere (anywhere) else than here, so I have a feeling we’ll be saying good-bye to them before all too long as well. I agree with what D said last night that for Christian friends, good-bye isn’t truly good-bye for we are brothers and sisters in Christ, after all, but I also think one difficult aspect of the Fall is that we do have to say good-bye in this life – through moves and through death, and that we do have those separations from people we grow to love. But, now we also know we have friends in San Antonio next time D has to go there for Army training. Maybe I’ll just go with him next time and visit!

As we wish our friends well in the next phase of their life, and, really, this is a good move for them, we get to turn our attention to some exciting things happening at our local church here, as well. Though our original class has dwindled, this coming Sunday we are starting a new class with a teacher who is going to present a course on Genesis through Revelation, kind of an apologetics class. We are very excited about what he’ll be teaching. And there are quite a few people interested in joining with us – including some of the youth and their parents, so this is exciting for our church. The pastor also is beginning a sermon series that is going to be pretty hard-hitting and Gospel-centered, educating the people that just because they may have walked an aisle in the past doesn't necessarily mean they've been saved. Basically he'll be dealing with the idea of examining ourselves to be sure we're in the faith. This will be revolutionary in this congregation, and I'd appreciate prayers for our church! We’re excited about this as well. So, while we are grieving an ending, we are also looking ahead to some new beginnings as well.

Such is life, isn’t it?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thoughts While In The Sonic Drive Through

While sitting in the drive through lane at Sonic today after a fruitful trip to Wally World WalMart(s), I noticed the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. It said, “Cats NOT kids.” Okay, this is why people say I’m too serious all the time, but that made me cry. No, I’m not judging anyone’s decision not to have children, nor do I think parenting is something to be entered into lightly,and yes, I know we live in a fallen world and most people do not hold a biblical worldview, and I wouldn’t say anything to these people in front of me or get all weird about a bumper sticker. We live in a free society and they are free to hold their opinions and put them on a bumper sticker if they wish, no skin off my nose, blah, blah, blah, blah. It just got me thinking, is all.

In our culture we are inundated with the message that children are a burden. This is wrong. I know, raising children is expensive (I won’t tell you how much I cringed at what I had to pay today to buy clothes for Boo and J – but when J comes downstairs telling me none of his pants fit anymore it is time to shop!), challenging – frustrating at times even, messy, inconvenient, you name it. But it is also one of the biggest blessings and privileges I can think of in this life. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that God has allowed me to be a wife and a mom, even when I feel frustrated or overwhelmed at times. Yes, even then it is a blessing to be mommy.

When we first got married, I was freshly out of college and a Christian young woman who sincerely wanted to live for the Lord and honor Him as a wife and mother. But I had bought into the pervasive and sometimes very subtle mindset that was all around me that we needed “our” time before we had children. We needed to “grow as a couple” before we added the “burden” of children. I so regret that now. Sure, we enjoyed the almost 5 years of marriage together before our first son came along. But I think we were also arrogant to think that we could plan to the month when we would have our kids. At that time, I did not know that it would take me almost a year to get pregnant with our first child. At that time, I did not know I would suffer three miscarriages. At that time, I did not know my husband would have several long deployments as a captain in the Army Reserve. The arrogance entered in by thinking we had all the time in the world to “enjoy our freedom” before we added the burden of parenthood, and assuming that there would be no problems conceiving and carrying the babies once we decided we were ready. I wish now that I had not viewed children as a burden that would add stress, but as a blessing to cherish. I see it now.

And I’m not denying that parenting is hard. It’s the hardest and most frightening thing I’ve ever done – and my guys are still young. But it is also infinitely rewarding. Watching the light go on in their eyes when they understand something we’ve been teaching them. Listening to their ideas and dreams. Cuddling with them. Learning to care for and about someone other than me, me, me all the time. And as I learn to give of myself to my husband and children, it begins to spill over into learning to care about other people, too. I have to confess that I am a really selfish person. That is a daily, minute-by-minute struggle for me. I am learning, oh, so slowly it seems, to prefer others before myself. And my children are a big tool God is using to teach me this. What greater honor is there than to teach the next generation to fear and love God? I am extremely thankful God has allowed me to be a wife and a mom. That is my ambition right now. Not a career to build a name for myself. But to love my husband and cherish him, and to parent and love my children well, as I submit myself to my Lord, Jesus Christ.

In a world where evolution is the underlying root of the dominant worldview, children are devalued because human life is seen as no different from animal life, just higher on the evolutionary chain. In a worldview that says these children are created in the image of God and are blessings to a family (whether they are born to that family or adopted in), we come to see them for the blessings they are. We begin to see that our selfish view of children as burdens melts into a gratitude that we get to share our lives with these little people as they grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s grace. Oh, may I run the race of parenthood well! May I teach these children the truths of God’s Word. I pray God, in His mercy and grace, will grant to them saving faith as we obey Him to train up our children. Please, Lord God, don’t let our faults and failures be a stumbling block to them!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For Once I Admit Being A Packrat Has Its Advantages

Anybody remember what a record is? Well, we have D’s parents’ old stereo system with working record player – remember those big, heavy furniture pieces? We’ve lugged this thing, which was already an antique when we got married, around with us through 13 years of marriage and several moves, and it’s always a challenge finding a place to put it in any house we live in. Right now it lives in the boys’ playroom/storage room (they do not have a closet in the upstairs bonus room they share, so this room suffices for storage of their stuff. Yes, I am feeling a little overwhelmed with the need to organize it and throw away my little packrats’ supposed “treasures” again…).

Anyway, M is home from school again today – he was still feeling under the weather this morning, and I thought maybe he needed one more day just in case he’s still contagious, seeing as he hadn’t been on the antibiotic a full 24 hours yet this morning. He’s feeling quite a bit better this afternoon and he asked if I would play a record for him. I told you my kids are weird – I bet none of their friends even know what a record is!! Even better, we still have some records that D had when he was little and some that were mine that my mom kept for years until I took them home with me. M is now listening to one I used to listen to when I was his age. It is a musical about the 10 Commandments, with each commandment sung in the style of kids from different parts of the world.

While I was cleaning the bathroom next to the room he’s in, I could hear M singing along about the only true God. Ya’ll, that just melts this mommy’s heart. M is really self-conscious if I acknowledge his singing, but I just love to listen when I catch him singing along with a praise song in the car or with this little record. I’m so glad my mom saved it, and I’m even thankful for my husband’s packrat mentality that has led to us dragging this heavy, inconvenient record player around all these years. Once in a while, I guess packratting can be beneficial! Shhhhh, don’t tell D I said that….

Monday, March 12, 2007

Daylight Savings Ups and Downs

Some things I like about Daylight Savings Time:

Everything happens an hour earlier, so even if Boo gets up at what used to be 5:30, it’s now 6:30. Smile!! That is a decent time to wake up. And since D leaves for work about 5:30 AM, I usually get up and take my shower and try to read my Bible before needing to get the kids up and ready for the day. Today I was able to complete my Bible reading before having to take care of anyone’s breakfast!!! This is a first in a very long time. Lately Boo has been getting up so early that I’ve had to snatch Bible time throughout the morning as I had opportunity. Today was nice!

I’m a morning person, so it’s good to get the day started earlier.

I can stay up later and not be falling asleep at 9PM. Now I peter out around 10PM. I’ve told you I’m not a night owl.

More daylight for baseball practices in the evening.

It’s one more sign Spring is almost here.

Yep, it’s just mind games, I am aware of this, but it works for me!

Some downsides:

Morning starts in the DARK.

The kids are even harder to wake up and get them moving faster than a herd of turtles in pond water on school mornings.

The neighbor kids stay out until dark, and it doesn’t get totally dark until after my boys’ bedtime. Therefore, oldest son is not a happy camper when he is upstairs settling in for the night at dusk while he can look out the window and see his friend across the street still out playing. Yes, we are those strict parents that think 8-year-olds need to be in bed by 8PM, especially when he stays up for another hour reading and moves like pond water in the morning. We’re also those strict parents that don’t think that same kid needs to stay up after 9PM and watch American Idol like so many of his classmates, when we aren’t even watching it. (Can you tell what conversations have taken place around here?
“Mom, what’s American Idol?"
"A TV show about people who want to sing, but Daddy and I don't watch it."
"Why can’t I watch it? Is is bad?"
"I guess it's not bad, just not our thing. Besides, it's on after bedtime."
"But all my friends watch it and I never know what they’re talking about the next day.”
Boo. Hoo. I say. I have a feeling my kids are always going to be the weird ones because we seem to be stricter than the other parents in that we don’t let them watch just anything….and that’s a good thing.)

That’s the only downsides I can think of right now.

So, happy (almost) Spring everyone!

Update on M: I got him in to the doctor this morning and it turns out those swollen tonsils were strep throat. I’m feeling like Horrible Mom right now for making him wait all weekend to get on antibiotic. I’ve had strep throat and it HURTS. No wonder he was crying last night. I feel really, really badly for him! I just hate calling the doctor-on-call’s pager when I’m not sure. Turns out, I should have – she said they were in all weekend on calls and would have worked us in. Apparently this is going around all over town right now. We’re praying J, D and I stay healthy! The doctor also told me it’s very rare for a baby Boo’s age to contract strep, so I’m hoping that’s true! And M seems to be on the mend. He spent the day today watching cartoons and playing computer games. And J somehow managed to lose M’s weekend homework that he was supposed to turn in for him, so I wrote an e-mail to M’s teacher to explain that we’re looking for it in J’s classroom tomorrow, and would she please not hold it against M if he comes to school tomorrow without it.

It’s always something, so I keep on smiling…….and now I must go try to fix a dinner that my picky eaters will eat...or not, but it must be on the table shortly, anyhow.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Something That Encouraged Me Today

Just when I thought the Sweet Tea family was all through being sick, M isn't feeling well. We went out last night for pizza, and at the restaurant M kept saying his throat hurt and then he just put his head down on the table. He really looked awful. So, we asked for a box, took our pizza home and took M's temperature - 102. He promptly took some Tylenol and went to bed, and with a flashlight I could tell his tonsils look a bit swollen. Sigh. Poor little guy. I stayed home with him today as he still had a 100 degree temp this morning and kept Boo home, too, while D and J went on to church. At least I got to listen online to Alistair Begg and spend some time reading my Bible this morning, but I still feel weird not being at church today.

I'm in Acts now with my daily Bible reading, and I read the most encouraging thing today. It's not anything that is a new concept to me, but very, very encouraging, none the less. When Peter had the vision of the unclean animals and God told him to go with the messengers from Cornelius (Acts 10), he then had to explain when he returned to Jerusalem why he went in and even ate with uncircumcized people. The encouraging thing I read today is their response to his description of how God displayed His grace to these God-fearing Gentiles.

Acts 11:18 "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.'"

That "also" means life to me! Praise God for His grace! Praise God for the extent of His grace! Thank You, Lord God that You have granted me the repentance to life through Jesus Christ!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

So Many Books....

I found this over at Reflections of the Times which Carla got from Kim at Hiraeth who is starting a new venture called Bookworm Bookmarks, and I thought I’d play along. Hope that’s okay!

Bookworm Meme

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Either, but a hardback from the library that will stay open on the book rack of the treadmill is great for exercising. That’s where I get a lot of my extra (non-Bible study) reading done – if I can ever get all the kids healthy enough for me to get back to the gym, that is.

Online purchase or brick and mortar?
I don’t purchase much of my fiction reading material – I utilize the library for that! Recently, however, when I have bought books, it’s been online – mainly because we don’t have many good, accesible bookstores around here, and buying books is a bit pricey for a one-income-so-mom-can-stay-home-with-the-kids budget.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Neither. We don’t have either one anywhere close enough that I’ve spent any time at all in them to have a preference.

Bookmark or dog-ear?
I prefer a bookmark (usually some scrap paper I find in a pinch or the little due date receipt they give out when I check a book out from the library), but I dog-ear, too, if I can’t find a ready bookmark.

Mark or not mark?
Sometimes. Fiction, no – nothing worth marking when I’m just reading for fun. Doctrinal or teaching type books and my Bible, yes, definitely mark.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
I used to sort by size on the shelf, but right now things are fairly haphazard. No real order on our shelves. The boys’ shelves are grouped by type of book (Dr. Seuss all together, Junie B Jones all together, etc.) and by size on the shelf, except when they are just thrown into the bookshelf in a whirlwind attempt to just get them out of the floor.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Depends on the book. If I really liked the book or if it is a meaty, doctrinal or educational type book, or if I think the kids might read it when they are older, I keep it. If it is something awful I’ll probably throw away if it’s something I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else reading – false teaching or something with filthy language/behavior that I didn’t realize when I bought the book. Anything else I’d probably sell or give to Goodwill when finished with it.

Keep dustjacket or toss it?
Toss after I get tired of fighting with keeping it on and not ripped.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
Remove – sometimes I’ll keep it and use the jacket to mark my place until I find another book mark.

Short story or novel?
Both. It depends on what I’m in the mood for at the time. Short stories are good when I don’t have much time, but there’s something about the anticipation of looking forward to being able to pick up a novel I’m working through when I have a rare spot of free time over a few days, and the character development can be fleshed out so much better in a longer book.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?
Either, though I’ve read some collections I’ve really liked (Jeffrey Archer comes to mind). Come to think of it, I have a book of American Short Stories by different authors that I liked, too. So, yeah, either.

Lord of the Rings or Narnia?
Both! I read Narnia through so many times as a kid I don’t even remember how many. Lord of the Rings is a favorite, too, and everytime I’ve read through it I’ve felt a little sad once I got to the last page of the last book, like I’m saying good-bye to good friends. Silly? Perhaps, but I really enjoyed both series.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Ideally, at chapter breaks, but now that I have kids, usually I have to stop when someone needs me or to intervene and keep the boys from killing each other if I read when they are awake. When reading after the kids are asleep, sometimes I get so involved in a book I can’t bring myself to put it down until I’m literally falling asleep myself. When I was younger, I even stayed up all night to finish a book once in a while, though, not anymore now that I'm married and we have kids. Sleep trumps reading these days when little Boo is getting up so very early in the morning and I know I’ll have lots and lots to do the next day.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Both. I love mysteries and I love wrapping my mind around an eerie (not ghost story eerie, just somewhat mysterious) or intense story, but I also love to get lost in a fairy tale, dragons and knights kind of story. Each has a different mood, both of which I like.

Buy or Borrow?
Borrow. The library is my friend. But, I like to buy books from authors like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, etc. that I will read over and over and are edifying to my Christian life – also, I don’t find these at my local library.

New or used?
Either, but only if the used ones don’t have that musty, dusty, midlewy old-book smell. Yuck.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
Any of the above. But I like to read the flap and a few pages before I actually buy. Checking out from the library – any of the above, but I usually skim a new-to-me author to see if there seems to be much bad language or raunchiness – sometimes you can’t tell until you get into the book. I’ve gotten pretty adept at mentally editting and skipping over occasional stuff, but sometimes an author uses language or raunchiness so profusely it’s not worth reading the story at all, and reviews don’t always tell you this. That’s why if I’m buying a fiction book, I like to be able to hold it and skim it first. A library book that proves too much I usually just put down and take it back – I’ve chosen not to finish an interesting story before because I just couldn’t stomach the language the author chose to incorporate into it.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy ending. I like cliffhanger chapters, but I want the book to have a real ending. Unless there is a good sequel that will tidy up the ending. Then a cliffhanger is okay.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading?
I’m telling on myself, but I’ll read anywhere, anytime – even the bathtub, car line while waiting to pick up the boys, anytime I have a moment to sit down – I’ve even been known to have a book on the counter while I’m cooking dinner.

Standalone or series?
Either. Sometimes a series is nice because I know I like the author and it’s nice to know what I’ll read next since I don’t have lots of time to browse the shelves looking for new reading material (Boo’s happy times when out on errands are fairly short, so I tend to snatch and grab at the library and hope I’ve picked at least one I’ll like, unless I go in with an idea what I’m looking for.)

Favorite series?
I don’t think I have one. There are several I like, mostly mystery/detective fiction types, but I have to be careful, for a lot of that genre can tend toward the raunchy. Like I said, I can mentally edit mild or occasional stuff, but if raunchiness characterizes the whole book, I don’t waste my time. I tend to devour all the books in a series when I find one I like then move to something else. I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series about a fictional archeological family in Egypt, but there are others I like as well.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Can’t think of one off hand. Once again, there are so many books I like to read, but I don’t really have a favorite.

Favorite books read last year?
I hate these kinds of questions. There are just so many I like, and I read so much, it’s hard for me to pick one. I’m not sure if I read this last year, but I really liked Hard to Believe by John MacArthur for nonfiction. For fiction I guess I’ll say I enjoyed reading some Agatha Christie books last year and I also read a series by Fiona Buckley about a fictional woman who is in Queen Elizabeth I’s court in England that was interesting.

Favorite book of all time?
I have to say the Bible. That’s obviously the book I read most and base my life and beliefs upon. I know this little survey was more about fiction, however, and I don’t think I have a favorite in that area. There are just too many I like.

Something that wasn’t asked is what I’m planning to read soon. I’ve been hearing a lot about Pilgrim’s Progress lately, and since I’ve never read it, I think we’re going to order that one online and I’ll read it before too long. Anyway, I must get off this computer now. It’s a nice day out, must go enjoy it!

Prosperity Preaching

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” for today:

"In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved."—Psalm 30:6.

“Moab settled on his lees, he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel." Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continually rich freights; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to bear his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep; let his lands yield abundantly: let the weather be propitious to his crops; let uninterrupted success attend him; let him stand among men as a successful merchant; let him enjoy continued health; allow him with braced nerve and brilliant eye to march through the world, and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have the song perpetually on his lips; let his eye be ever sparkling with joy—and the natural consequence of such an easy state to any man, let him be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption; even David said, "I shall never be moved;" and we are not better than David, nor half so good. Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream "we stand;" and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy.We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank Him for our changes; we extol His name for losses of property; for we feel that had He not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.
"Afflictions, though they seem severe,In mercy oft are sent."

Some thoughts I had while reading this today:

**This doesn't sound much like the prosperity gospel/name-it-and-claim-it/Word Faith heretical preaching we hear on Christian TV and in Christian bookstores, does it?

**I wrote a post a while back about God’s discipline of straying believers, and that is definitely true, but I didn’t point out well enough, I think, that trials are not always in response to our sin. We must not look at a fellow believer who may be suffering and automatically and arrogantly assume they are being judged for some sin in their life. God’s ways are higher than ours, and we must not presume, like Job’s friends wrongly did, that we know what His plans are for our brother or sister in Christ. We shouldn’t waste energy on judging another person’s situation, but expend our energy by praying for them, loving them, and helping them bear their burdens. God allows and uses trials in our lives for various reasons, and sometimes we may not know the reason, but we know our Savior and we trust His character as He has revealed Himself in His Word, trusting Him to work all things for our good and His purpose. Always we must turn our affection and attention to Him for His glory alone.

**Anything I allow to become more important to me than Christ can become an idol in my life – even my husband, my children, my house, my car, finances……..When things are going well, it is very tempting to presume that I deserve the good things in my life or that I have earned them by my own goodness. It is also tempting to presume that I will always stand and to begin trusting in my own strength rather than Christ’s. It is God’s grace that allows trials to humble me when that pride enters in, hard as that is for me to want to say. In fact, prosperity itself can be a trial where I can either choose wrongly to trust in my circumstances or learn to give God all the glory and use the prosperity He has granted to practice gratefulness and recognize it all comes from Him and obey Him with the provision He gives. There are many warnings in the Bible about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God – precisely because we are so very prone to trust in our prosperity and to think we are better than we are rather than placing our trust in our God who provides our sustenance and recognizing our desperate need for forgiveness and mercy. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, only Christ Jesus is truly righteous and we must trust in Him alone.

**Proverbs 30:7-9
“Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches –
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.”

**In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, he taught us to ask for our daily bread. May we learn to be content with what God provides, not seeking after the lusts of the world, but seeking His glory alone, and learning to worship Him with whatever He chooses to provide. May we learn to trust Him alone whether our trial be prosperity or not – may we seek first His Kingdom, and trust Him to provide our needs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Some Good Preaching

One of my favorite preachers to listen to is Alistair Begg. God has richly gifted him for expository preaching, and his love for Christ comes through so eloquently that time and again I am encouraged to chew on the passages he highlights and study more.

I’ve been listening for the last several days to Pastor Begg preach from the book of Hebrews. It’s really caused me to desire to be reading that book along with my daily Bible reading, for it is so full of riches. What he’s been saying has so gripped my heart that today I went back and listened online to the first two sermons from this series, which I had missed, in which he talks about heeding the warnings in scripture. He used Hebrews 2:1-4 which says, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

Then, after talking about heeding this warning not to drift away and to remember the things we’ve heard, he went back to Hebrews 1:1-3 to remind us what it is we’ve heard: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

I won’t spell out all the notes I took today, but please go to Truth For Life and listen to these sermons if you get the chance. It is food for the soul! I am going to whet the appetite a bit and show some quotes that had me saying, “Amen!” out loud today while feeding Boo her lunch. She looked at me funny, but, I had to go back and listen again just so I could write some of these down.

While talking about how all things are created by Jesus and for Him, Pastor Begg mentioned that commentaries from the late 19th and early 20th centuries tried to explain away miracles like the feeding of the 5,000. Calling this preposterous nonsense, he said, “If He is the creative agent of the whole universe, what’s brunch for 5,000 out of five loaves and two fish?” Yes!

Pastor Begg also addressed scientists who may be listening and told them that they must bring their minds under the truth of God’s Word, that this must be the starting point. He said, “All of your scientific experimentation must be posited on these truths. These truths do not fight for acceptance on the basis of your scientific abilities. And at the end of the day, when the brightest scientific brains have the codes cracked for them, they will be on their knees before Christ and they will declare Him Lord of the whole universe that He has made.” YES! That one had me shouting today.

Listen to the rest of this series for some very sober warnings and some gloriously high teachings of Christ’s majesty. Pastor Begg talked of his passion to preach the Bible well and encourage us to pay most careful attention to the truths of the Word of God so that we do not drift away, for he has known people who have drifted as they grew tired of hearing the Gospel preached and began to become jaded thinking they were “beyond all that.” May I never, never outlive my love for my blessed Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Now That My Heart Rate Is Normal Again.....

Boo, at a week shy of 10 months old, has pretty much given up baby food. She gags on Stage 3 baby food – something about the texture, I think, because she does okay with small, diced table food as long as I go slowly while feeding her. Seeing as it’s been 5 years since I had a baby just starting out on table food, this is an adventure all over again for us. Everything this baby does is like a new adventure. She is extremely active!

Boo gave me a scare yesterday afternoon that neither of her brothers ever managed to do when they were babies. I was in the kitchen while Boo crawled around the living room, which I can see from the kitchen. All of a sudden, she was making a gagging, coughing noise and I dropped what I was doing and ran over to her. As I lifted her head, I saw a metallic shiny something in her mouth. My heart entered my throat with fear and adrenaline, and I very carefully fished out a little file cabinet key that M had found and kept for some reason. How it got on the floor and in Boo’s reach, I do not know. I have been on these boys something fierce about keeping small things out of the floor, but they are little boys and there is always something lying around, it seems.

After a long time of holding her close, crying and saying, “Thank You, thank You, thank You, God,” because that was all I could manage to say at that time, I am really thanking God for granting us mercy yesterday. I am even thankful for Boo's extremely sensitive gag reflex. It was a blessing in this case! This little baby is so quick, she just keeps me hopping. I am extremely thankful my little Boo is still able to crawl around the living room and talk in her funny little babbles and grin and giggle with us. So very, very thankful! And you’d better believe I am double and triple checking the floor today!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Not To Be Thought of Lightly

I’ve got something I’ve been thinking about for the past several days. I have a lot that needs to be done this morning around the house, but I also have a need to get my thoughts out, so let me think out loud a bit here, then go do all the things that need doing.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my own temperament. I’ve been told most of my life that I take things too seriously and I need to lighten up. And this is true about some things. As I’ve grown and matured, I’ve learned so much about just enjoying being with people and laughing, and I love to do that. My husband has helped me so much in this area. In fact, he’s always telling me to “Lighten up, Beck,” about things that aren’t all that serious. A part of that is that I’m learning to try to see where other people are coming from and not take myself too seriously. I tend to have a fairly thin skin when it comes to criticism, and that has sometimes hindered my ability to recognize when someone is just kidding. When I was a teenager, there was a group of kids in our church youth group who had very sharp, sarcastic ways of communicating and teasing each other. It didn’t take long before the teasing really started to hurt, for that was the dominant way this group spoke – not much love behind the teasing was evident. I think I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed in this area as I’ve gotten older, though, but I still try to be very careful what kinds of teasing I allow to go on in my home. I remember how badly some comments can hurt – even when meant totally in jest – because a sensitive heart will still wonder if there is truth behind the tease.

With all that said, there are things that I believe it is impossible to be too serious about. I was listening to a favorite CD of mine from Selah, “Greatest Hymns,” and there is a very moving arrangement of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” that I absolutely love to listen to. I know some posts I’ve written have been quite serious about the error that creeps in when we aren't serious about the authority of Scripture and follow after our own opinions or feelings, but this is one area that it really is impossible to be too serious about. When people tell me to lighten up in the area of popular fads in Christianity, sin, repentance and the truth of the Word of God, I am passionate about the fact that these are not laughing matters or matters that should be taken lightly. Read the words of this hymn and then see if our sin is something that God would take lightly. No way. It is of such a serious nature that Jesus came down to earth from the glory He had from all eternity with the Father (John 1:1-16), was born as a baby in human flesh, lived absolutely and completely righteously among our filth and wretchedness, and submitted to the humiliation of death on a cruel cross at the hands of us vile sinners, suffered the wrath that our sin deserved when the Father turned His face from our sin that was laid on Him, and died, was buried and rose again. That is how seriously God takes our sin. Our sin is worthy of death and wrath and eternal separation from God in hell. But by His matchless, infinite grace He took our place and rose victorious over death. By grace through faith Christ's righteousness is imputed to me. The gift of grace is absolutely amazing. If we honestly begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for us in providing a Savior for such total wretches, it is sobering, to say the least. No, it is not possible to be too serious about that.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
Which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain;
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!
‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Sleepy, Rambling Rhyme

As you can see, the bloggity slump still goes strong
I really do hope it won’t last all that long.
I’m rambling a bit as I type at this time
To exercise my brain I’m trying a rhyme.
Son M enjoyed his first t-ball practice today-
He’s looking so forward to getting to play.
The marsh gnats were swarming all over and stinging
Next time the bug spray I’d better be bringing!
Son J is wondering when his coach will call
He’s ready for his turn to start playing ball.
This is another big sign that spring’s almost here –
Balancing baseball events for two boys, oh dear!
Now since Baby was up before dawn this morning
I’m sleepy and my eyes are giving me warning
That if I don’t bring this ramble to a quick end
I’ll fall asleep on the keyboard; but that I don’t intend!
So off I am going to read a good book for a bit
Though I’m so sleepy won’t be long ‘til I quit.
Perhaps little one will finally pick this night to sleep,
And we can get needed rest with sleep that is deep.

Electronic Junk Mail

I’ve had a little blogging slump the last couple of days. Not much to say, and too much to do in real life. Things like taking care of the kids and cleaning the house trump blog time! :^) Anyway, it took opening my e-mail this morning to get me over the slump with a ready-made topic to write about today. Hope this topic doesn’t offend too many people, but you know what? My blog. I write to get some of this stuff off my chest. No one else has to like it, I guess. At least, that's what my husband keeps saying when I say, "Should I really post this?" He says, "Hey, it's your blog. Write it if you want to." So I am. I’m not feeling grouchy at all today, but the post may sound like it. I’m just going to type this, post it and walk away from my computer.

I am getting a little tired of endless e-mail forwards. 99.9% of these things are either hoaxes or downright wastes of time to read. At the risk of coming across as a real snot (in some people’s eyes), I’ve started checking the hoax type and sending back to the person who sent it to me with a link showing that it’s a hoax. I’m not doing it to be arrogant or bratty, I’m just tired, tired, tired of the junk that fills my inbox every day, and, dare I mention it, the laziness that leads to just forwarding rather than finding out if it is true before forwarding. Ouch. I have one friend who must forward every single junk thing she gets to everyone in her address book. She’s a Christian friend, but there is just outright blasphemy, heresy, nonsense and superstition in the garbage she forwards. Sometimes I think, “Come on (friend's name), you KNOW better than this!!!” Especially with the ones that have the little good luck prayers attached – if you have e-mail, you probably have seen them. I got one yesterday that basically equated the American soldier with Jesus. Ugh. Now, my husband is in the Army Reserve, been to Iraq – and some other places, so I understand and appreciate (more than some people) the kinds of sacrifices that the military and their families make every day. But they are not anywhere near what Jesus did for us, so no comments/e-mails/criticism that says you think I’m under-appreciating the military, please. But that’s another post, perhaps. This same friend, however, if I send a real e-mail like a “Hi, how are you?” kind of note, almost never responds. But she’ll flood the inbox with junk.

Anyway, the thing below hit my inbox this morning, thanks to another friend. All it took was a simple search of the Focus on the Family website to find that this is a hoax that’s been going around in some form or another for a while. I sent a friendly little note back with the link. I also mentioned (as nicely as I could) that some of those teachers listed are propagating heresy. I have a feeling I won’t be too popular at church because I said that. Had I been feeling really feisty and throwing all politeness to the wind I might have said (but didn’t), “And taking certain of those teachers off the air is bad, how, exactly?” But, that’s another post, as well. Just know that if you see the following in your inbox today or in the future, it’s a hoax:

“SUBJECT: No more James Dobson, Greg Laurie, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Joel Olsteen????

Please, if you don't wish to participate, return this to the person who sent it to you so they can at least keep this going or forward it to some one you think will wish to participate.Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved. I hope you will think about signing this and forwarding to all your family and friends. Dr. James Dobson, with Focus on the Family, pleads for our action.An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington , DC . Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America . They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped.This group is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!You as a Christian can help! We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country.As Christians, we must unite on this. Please don't take this lightly. We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation.Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard. Together we can make a difference in our country while creating an opportunity for the lost to know the Lord.Please press "forward,"CLEAN UP THE MESSAGE, and forward this to everyone you think should read this.Now, please sign your name at the bottom (you can only add your name after you have pressed "Forward" or (cut and paste the text).Don't delete any other names, just go to the next number and type your name. Please do not sign jointly, such as Mr. & Mrs., each person should sign his/her own name.Please defeat this organization and keep the right of our freedom of religion. When you get to 1000 please e-mail back to: ............

Please, feel free NOT to forward anything to my e-mail. It will probably be deleted unread until I get annoyed enough to respond with the appropriate links. I think the thing that bothers me most is that so many of us will knee-jerk and get all mad when we see this kind of thing, and we’ll get all fired up and sign all these fake petitions, patting ourselves on the back self-righteously as we hit the send button, but we don’t get concerned at all about bad teaching. Several of those people listed up there are proponents of Word Faith and/or wrong teachings about the Trinity along with other things that are just erroneous and heretical teachings. We don’t get at all concerned that heresy is just flooding the “Christian” airwaves. Nope. That’s fine and dandy. But don’t you dare fictionally threaten to take it off the TV! Priorities, priorities. If this post seems cranky, well, so be it. I just think we get too concerned about all the wrong things, and not nearly concerned enough about the things that really matter. This is something I pray about often.

**Update*** Click here to see Focus on the Family's statements about the hoax e-mail.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stand Therefore

Ephesians 6:10-20
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against prinicipalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Tonight I’m feeling heavy-hearted. I talked with some women that I hold dear today, and as I listened, it’s so clear to me how subtle the error that creeps in our midst can be. My heart aches for these women, who have been Christians a long time and who ought to know solid, biblical doctrine. They’ve been in church for many years, and taken part in Bible studies. They know a lot of Bible verses. But they listen to teachers that aren’t speaking biblical truth accurately. And they aren’t always discerning enough about the books they choose to use in their studies. If it comes from the Christian bookstore, it must be okay, right? If it’s on Christian TV it must be solid, right? Sadly, no, but because they haven’t heard the teachers say the big, loud, obvious error, they fall for the subtle ones. They’ve heard that this one particular teacher is a proponent of a certain known wrong teaching, but they haven’t heard her speak on that topic, so they buy into the psychological stuff she does say. And they really don’t want to hear the reasons why what’s being taught is slippery slope human wisdom. So many times in these conversations, it’s so easy to start questioning my own self – am I just too serious? I know that I am always learning and growing in my Christian walk. But I also know it is very important to hold teachers accountable and to walk away from teaching that is not solidly biblical. D and I have gotten into some almost heated discussions with one of these women before, and she always turns from what we are saying about a certain doctrine onto missions and how important that is. However, what we were discussing never denied that mission work is important, but we were pointing out that unless you accurately understand the Gospel, how can you do missions well? Yes, we’re to love our neighbors. We don’t deny that. But the issue at hand was that we need to have a firm grasp on biblical truth and not be taken in with false teaching, no matter how good it may sound or no matter what bookstore sells their books. So, I’m feeling a little discouraged tonight. But I know that it isn’t really the people we fight. It is the evil one who, from the beginning in the Garden of Eden has been a liar and a deceiver and has always worked to tempt people to question God’s Word. “Hath God said….,” has been the siren call through the ages. May we never leave the plumb line of God’s Word. May we learn to stand firm, by God’s grace.

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for reminding me tonight that You give us what we need to STAND! There is a battle going on – but it’s not people we fight, but the rulers of the darkness of this age. Lord, grant Your people wisdom to discern truth from error. Grant us the desire to listen to sound, biblical teaching and to walk away from teaching that may sound good but ultimately leads away from truth. Oh, God, grant us the will to live righteously – it is Your righteousness that causes us to stand. Let us know and love the gospel of peace – convict us of our need to measure every single teaching we hear by Your Word. Grant us the faith to withstand in this day when heresy is presented as truth, even in churches that used to stand firm. Salvation is only by grace through faith in Christ Jesus’ righteousness and substitionary death on the Cross and resurrection. Jesus, You are the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through You. There is no other way that leads to salvation but Your narrow way. Please grant Your people the wisdom to search the scriptures diligently that we will know the truth and give us the wisdom not to question what You have made so very clear in Your Word. I pray You would preserve a remnant that will not bow the knee to felt needs and erroneous ways of approaching You. Please strengthen Your Church that we may be a pure bride, unspoiled by the lusts of the world. And, Father, I pray for the men of God who will open Your Word faithfully tomorrow. Let them boldly proclaim Your Word. Please raise up men who will unashamedly preach what the Bible says, verse by verse, precept upon precept, line upon line, so that Your people will be equipped to know the truth so that it can set them free to live lives wholly dedicated to You. May we truly be a people set apart and holy, living for Your glory. Please cause the scales to drop from our eyes where we’ve strayed from the plumb line of Your righteous way. And let us be a bright and shining light to a dark world – pointing ever and only to our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, and our only hope. Please grant us the faith to submit to Your Lordship, and to walk in newness of life, found only in You. Let our worship be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name tonight. Amen.