• 08Apr

    crabapple bloom

    Good afternoon and happy Resurrection Sunday! We enjoyed spending today at church and with family, then came home to spend the rest of the evening quietly together. I did take a bit of time to reflect on the wonder and miracle that makes this day so special to us who are Christians. To know that Jesus Christ died for my sins then rose again from the grave in triumph still strikes awe in me. He died for each and every one of us, in order to reconcile us with God. I hope those of you who read this can rejoice with me on this wondrous day.

    As for Dex, he is continuing to improve. Last night he even purred for a bit when I was petting him. I was jealous because he had purred for my husband once before that, but would not do it for me. I think he has been upset with me for forcing so much food and medicine into him. This evening when I got home it was more than past time to feed Dex. He is supposed to eat every four hours, but missed at least one feeding while we were gone. As was suggested yesterday by the vet, I decided to offer him some regular canned cat food, rather than the prescription food he has been force-fed, to see if he would eat if voluntarily. I was pleased and surprised when, after a bit of coaxing, he began eating the Iams food from the saucer!!!! He ate several bites before my husband came to observe the big event, then was not interested anymore. I left him sequestered with it and will check on him in about 15 minutes to see if he has tried to eat any more. He has come such a long way in the past week. He went from being on death’s doorstep several different times to walking around, using his litter box, purring, and now eating finally voluntarily. Thank you to everyone for all of your kind words and prayers during this ordeal, I really appreciate them!

  • 25Jan

    The Listener's BibleGoal:  Read through the entire Bible in a year (or sooner). 

    I do not make resolutions each new year.  I do, however, set goals for myself.  I had been reading through the Bible daily until we began to approach the holidays.  Then it just seemed that we got so busy that I got lax in my reading.  It was a goal of mine to read through the whole Bible from cover to cover (I had not done that since Bible college) but I did not set it within a particular time frame.  This year, I decided to further challenge myself to start at the beginning on January 1 and make it through the whole Bible by the end of the year.  My husband has joined me in this challenge.

    My husband and I both have iPods.  Among our favorite things to listen to are audiobooks and theological podcasts.  We subscribe to Audible.com, where we get two book credits a month for about $22.95.  If you have ever priced a book on CD at the store, they run usually between $40-60 apiece.  Audio versions of the Bible can run from about $40 all the way up to $100.  My husband had the wonderful idea to get The Listener’s Bible from Audible.com – where it cost us only one book credit ($11.47)!  One of the wonderful benefits of audiobooks is the ability to listen while I do other things.  I listen while I apply my makeup in the morning, while I do dishes or iron, while I knit, and even while I drive in my car.  My husband has a 45 minute commute each way to work (and he dislikes commuting) and he listens on the way to work.  The Listener’s Bible is a wonderful way to listen to the Bible, and Max McLean reads very well.  It is available in ESV, KJV, or NIV versions. 

    I challenge any of you in blogland who either have not read through (or listened to) the entire Bible before or have not done it in a while to join me in this endeavor.  You can find schedules and reading plans here.

  • 12Jan

    I realize that it has been a number of weeks since I last posted.  I hope everyone had great Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  We spent them with family, friends, and food. 

    In the intervening weeks since the holidays, my husband and I have spent much time evaluating and reevaluating a number of things in our lives, many of which relate to our church.  We had been struggling with whether or not we should even think about looking for a new church home for a while now, but we were not making any decisions on this until after the holidays.  The state wide youth conference for our denomination took place a couple of weeks ago.  And since we teach the middle school class at church and usually chaperone youth events, my husband and I chaperoned the trip.  We also chaperoned this same conference last year and were not at all impressed.  We chalked it up to a poor choice of speaker and hoped it would be better this year.  What we encountered this year disturbed us greatly.  We went in with our eyes wide open and listened intently to the message presented to the teens who came from all around the state. 

    The speaker is a motivational speaker who speaks in public schools about AIDS awareness and abstinence.  He lost a wife and baby daughter to AIDS in the 1980s after his wife received contaminated blood in a transfusion, then passed it on to her unborn child.  He spoke a lot about sex.  I do not necessarily object to this per se, as long as it is presented well and they are given the Biblical reasons for abstinence until marriage.  Even sharing statistics about STDs and pregnancy is all right with me.  It is important to combat society’s message that everyone has sex with whomever they want and that it is normal.  But the way he talked about the topic was inappropriate.  Our sixth graders – both boys and girls – described his as “creepy” to us later.  He talked about the Garden of Eden, and mentioned Eve being tempted by the serpent…but never mentioned sin.  He instead skipped right over that topic and related it instead to sex.  He went so far as to say that it was okay to “look at the apple, touch the apple, lust after the apple” just so long as they did not “bite the apple”.  He used the word apple as a substitute for sex.  We thought maybe he was just playing the devil’s advocate and that he would correct this, but he did not.  So it is still the first session, and he is entertaining the kids quite well as a storyteller.  He has not mentioned sin, talked a lot about sex, and said that lust is okay (which contradicts what Jesus says about lust in Matthew 5:28-29).  When we came home and asked our middle school students what they had gotten out of the weekend, one quoted him verbatim on the above statements about the apple.  When we asked her if that was true, she said no, because lust is wrong; this then led to a discussion on the verses mentioned above.

     The rest of the conference went on with more of the same:  AIDS awareness, feeding the hungry, and sponsor a Compassion child – you can even donate more to help a Compassion child with AIDS receive medicine and food for their whole family.  What my husband and I both found to be missing was the Gospel – the message that we are all sinners, that Jesus is the perfect Son of God who came to earth, lived a perfect life, died in our place for our sins, was raised from the dead, and lives eternally in heaven.  Sin was never mentioned, nor our need for a savior.  They mentioned once that if you wanted to accept Jesus as your savior (without specifying what He can save us from, or what He did for us on the cross), to rededicate your life to God, or just wanted prayer, to come forward.  We never once heard the word “sin” mentioned the entire weekend.  It was really sad.  Here were gathered teenagers from all over the state gathered for the once yearly conference, and we did not even share the truth of the Gospel message with them.  My husband and I were both extremely disappointed.  Sadly, the new youth pastor, his wife, and the other adult chaperones thought the conference was great.  When I mentioned to one of them, after the first session, that the gospel had not been presented, she just stated that maybe that session was just his “hook” to get their attention…that she was sure it would be presented later.  I had to ask myself, and my husband had the thought as well, what kind of evangelistic conference does not preach Christ first and foremost?  All we heard preached was a social gospel about helping the poor and those with AIDS.  We came away with the thought that if this is what our denomination stands for and thinks is important, then maybe we should search for something different. 

    It has been two weeks since that trip.  Benjamin and I have prayed about it and discussed it.  We have not quite come to a decision to leave our church yet.  Classes have begun at the University and he has a pretty sizeble load this semester, as well as his normal professional day job, and a Saturday job as well.  He spoke with the youth pastor today and notified him of his plans to step down from teaching Sunday school classes.  He has quite a bit on his plate and it is unfair to the kids if he cannot give more time to preparing, teaching, and chaperoning.  This is a hard decision because we have a vested interest in these kids.  We both enjoy them and want to see them grow and mature, both physically and spiritually. 

    This grieves both my husband and I.  We believe we are to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ: 

    And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

    This is the most important thing for us to do as Christians.  If we do not preach Christ, what makes us different from those who are not Christians?

  • 23Nov

    Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

    Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

    Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

    Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name.

    For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.

    -Psalm 100

  • 02Nov

    pumpkinChristians debate over whether to celebrate Halloween or not.  I was raised in a family that did not celebrate it, and I grew up going to church functions instead.  I only remember donning a costume twice:  When I was four I was Daffy Duck and went trick-or-treating (the only time).  When I was about eleven our church had a Biblical character costume contest.  I was Miriam with baby Moses (a bald cabbage patch doll in a basket).  In contrast, my husband grew up in a family that made elaborate costumes each year and he went trick-or-treating every year.  We talked about it after we got married, and he said he understood why I was not raised to celebrate, but that he also saw it as only a social custom and fun.Bible characters

    The first few years that we were married we lived in apartments, so it really was not that big of an issue.  We either were away from home at the time or we turned off our lights and watched a movie.  Then we bought our house.  When we moved in it was almost Christmas, so the neighbors were all indoors for the winter and we did not really meet any of them.  The ones we did see were rather stand off-ish and did not seem eager to interact.  I even had one house where they would pointedly avoid any eye contact…looking everywhere except at us.  The next fall I talked with Benjamin about it again and said maybe we should hand out candy as a way of being “neighborly”.  So, we handed out candy, but not very many kids showed up.

    Things changed this past summer when we had huge storm and power outage that lasted a week.  Neighbors were outside talking to one another and helping each other clean up the mess from all of the downed trees.  We actually got to know all of the neighbors near to us.  Then I baked my chocolate chip cookies, and took plates to all of the neighbors who helped us, along with a thank you note.  Since all of that took place, our neighbors are much friendlier. 

    This year, again, we handed out candy and mini microwave popcorn bags to the neighborhood kids, and had quite a lot of them.  We actually ran out of the popcorn, and almost ran out of the candy.  We saw fairy princeses, pirates, some escaped convicts (both the black-and-white-striped variety and the orange jumpsuit variety), batman, and batgirl, among others.  The children I saw were wide eyed and excited.  This was their opportunity to knock on a neighbor’s door and get candy for it.  These kids were not thinking, did not even have a clue, about the holiday’s pagan origins. 

    My SIL and BIL came by and brought my neice and nephew (he was Yoda this year).

    yoda

    I am not turning my back on the way I was raised or my convictions, but I guess I have learned to separate the modern social customs from the pagan origins of the holiday.  I am still not sure what we will do when we have children.  My husband says he celebrated it and he turned out to be a strong Christian, as well as his sister.  But, we will pray about it and cross that bridge when we come to it.