Saturday, May 1, 2010

Handle with Care (Fragile feelings)

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are very fragile beings when it comes to our feelings. We all think and perceive things different, and we all have different ways of acting, and very different ways of interpreting others. Thus, the things that will hurt one, will not affect another, and very possibly the one doing the hurting means nothing toward the first person. Hurt feelings can change the way our responses all the more, and can cause more and more misunderstandings and misinterpretations of each others. I don’t think most of us go around hurting others on purpose, yet tragically we do. The only solution is not foolproof, but would certainly help our interactions with others—handle each other with care.
My father always gives an example of this in his dealings with one of my brothers. One time he was giving reprimand, and at the look of my brother’s face in the middle of my father’s rebuke, he began to another tirade about “wiping that rebellious look off your face”, when the Lord checked him. Our gentle Lord said, “The red face, set lips, and almost glare in his eyes is not rebellion—he is trying to keep from crying.” My father is human and was going on appearances, and yet appearances are deceiving.
Another example would be myself. I remember a time in my life when I was feeling an extreme lack of self confidence. At this time I went to a church camp where I really didn’t know anybody well with my mom, and there were a few people I had known as a kid who tried to talk to me. I was afraid to be real friendly for fear they would try to talk to me more, and that I wouldn’t be able to think of what to say, and would feel dumb, so I was kind of stiff with them. (Now anyone who knows me now would think of that as a joke as some say I never shut up!!) Now those people probably thought I was stuck up and unfriendly, yet I’m not. Feelings made me appear different than I really was.
A more recent example of this is what made me think more on this situation. Person A I see as a fragile person. He was made fun of all through school, was put down as not being able to do anything by his family unwittingly, and just generally feels unattractive, untalented, and as if he can do nothing right. A situation happened where there was something (that I consider to be given entirely too much importance) happened that was very humiliating to this person, and nothing was explained to him why it was happening. It seemed obviously he was being talked about, and he began to be very defensive as is easy for us ALL to do—put up a wall to try to keep ourselves from being hurt more. Well Person B came and tried to talk and explain to Person A what was happening, but Person A was already hurt and defensive, and trying to get away from a hurtful situation basically cut B off and left. I know A didn’t hate B, and didn’t perceive himself as being unkind to B, but his feelings made him act in a way he didn’t mean. I tried to explain to Person B, and find out what the cause of the whole original problem was. Person B was very kind and accommodating, but said Person A needs to hit the altar with that attitude. Granted, Person A should have reacted to the situation different, but feelings were involved. Person B didn’t have the right to say what he did (or if he felt that way, he shouldn’t have said that to me—he should have talked to the Lord about it). However, feelings probably played a role in his actions also, as he hadn’t meant to hurt in the beginning and he probably found Person A’s reaction hurtful, and was taking it at face value. We are so fragile….
I think we need to not be sure we KNOW from other’s actions—we need to err on the side of graciousness and think they might not have meant it that way. We need to remember some of our own thought processes and reactions to things—we excuse ourselves, because we do know why we act the way we do; however, how often do we make excuses for the other fellow that we don’t know about? Problems snowball from simple issues like these. The Bible says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” There is places in the Bible where it says to make our wrongs right, but here it says if thy brother has “ought against thee”, you go start the reconciliation. Maybe it is to help with situations like this where your brother is more fragile than yourself? Instead of jumping to conclusions from other’s actions, lets handle each other with care!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How do you think you should dress for church?

How do you think you should dress for church? I would be interested in feedback on this.
I belong to the conservative-holiness movement, and of course. the ladies wear dresses or skirts all the time. We might wear our jean or denim skirts at home, and that is our casual, but you don't wear them Sunday morning. Those who don't belong to the conservative crowd might consider wearing a jean skirt dressing up as they wear pants the rest of the time, and might dress the way we do for Sunday church for a wedding or a very formal occasion. I know some people think it is showing respect for God to dress your best "for Him" on Sunday or for going to church period. Is this necessary to you?
First of all, I am "agin" it--this dressing up!!! For one thing, I feel if you are trying to get folk in that are not holiness-based, they are bound to feel uncomfortable with their wardrobe. We can say, " Oh! come in your jeans--we dont care!"--and we dont!!--but would you be comfortable in our setting if you were that outsider coming in? I dont quite think so. I know some outside people have thought that the church folk were trying to outdress each other. Belonging to the movement my self, I know it is not true most of time, but I can see how it could look that way.
My second bone of contention with it is, I am a hillbilly at heart, and I am not comfortable in dress clothes, and I dread Sundays because of it! I feel I could worship God more freely if I was in more comfortable clothes.
I think we need to be clean and neat--by all means--but why must we be so formal??? I am not talking sloppy. I hate sloppy churches too, but I like a well-run but somewhat informal church where the atmosphere is comfortable. I can worship and feel more free in that kind of a church---please tell me if you know one of those kind around still that is also conservative and spiritual!! I just think this can apply to our church clothes too--clean and neat, informal but not sloppy. I dont think that is disrespectful to God in the slightest. If I am wrong, give me the Scripture, but I am of the opinion that I can "serve him in sincerity and in truth" without my fancy duds!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holiness Dress Standards? Are they necessary?

I was raised in a conservative, holiness church. What does this entail? Well, conservative holiness churches have pretty much the same doctrine as that of the Methodists, Nazarenes, and the Wesleyans, but they still keep the dress standards that the previous denominations have let go by the wayside. They believe in salvation from your sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, and a second work of grace that gets rid of the carnal nature. However, the standards are what I want to talk about today.
In our churches, the woman wear dresses, have long hair and wear it up, don't wear jewelry--or even make-up normally, and men keep their hair cut, don't wear shorts, etc... Most holiness people of the past, and some today, do not watch TV or videos. Then they get into a lot of other things depending on the church you go to, and of what they call worldly or not. Some things are just that--"things". I have had a lot of issues in a lot of things preached over the pulpit in holiness churches as sin, when a lot of it is not in the Bible. Sometimes there are principles there, or there are common sense reasons why we do some things, but it is not Biblical. Let me use an example, I don’t wear short sleeves. Is it a sin to wear short sleeves? Probably not. I use the elbow as a limit for me. I could wear my sleeves above the elbow, and be modest as the Bible tells us to be (and be a Christian still), but I have a limit that I keep for myself. I figure if I get my sleeve above the elbow, maybe I would see another shirt that was a wee bit shorter in the sleeve area, so what is the difference? I would be still modest--but would it end there? Or maybe would someone else more vulnerable and weak than I see that I wore short sleeves, and not be able to keep the limit on how short of sleeve that I kept? Get real, folks, there is a point when the sleeve is too short--or sleeveless-- and you can see in, and it is not longer modest. Are short sleeves wrong? NO--it is my limit, and I am not imposing it on anyone. This is just an example of a commonsense reason why we do some things in the holiness movement. However, I had chafed at some of these things in the past, and some things I have to admit I have just plain thought was ridiculous with no commonsense reason behind it--and refused to do it
. Sometimes I have wondered, was much of it necessary?
Interesting question--is standards necessary? There is some of them that may not be necessary to salvation contrary to what a lot of my holiness brothers and sisters think, but maybe they are important in another way. My mom used to say, "Some things we do just because we want to show God we are willing to do extra for Him, just to be sure we are doing what He wants, and to let Him know we love Him." It is a comment that bears exploiting in each of our lives. Those "things" may be different in all of our lives--the things that God either tells us to do, or what we feel we should do extra for Him. Are we willing to do extra for Him? That is what the important question is.
Well this brings me to the next part of my thoughts--our church split. Our church voted out the pastor that had been there the past 4 years. He was a good man with a lovely family. He was very talented in speaking and singing along with his wife. However, he had many different ideas and standards that don’t fit with the holiness crowd. Many of the holiness standards had gone by the wayside in his own family. Were they things against the Bible? No. I have to admit though, I do think that maybe the pastor's family should hold a higher standard than the people as they are an example. The people will always take what they do and go further. Well in the matter of standards in our church, I think that was true. We had no holiness standards for the platform of our church, or people holding offices, even though the holiness-dress guidelines should have been kept as they were in the manual. Although this was definitely a problem, it was by no means the only problem; however, that is all I am going to mention in this post as I am talking about standards. Those who voted him out were the conservative ones that held old-fashioned standards. Even some of those who voted for him to stay were conservative holiness, but some of them just hated to vote against the pastor, but were unhappy with the way the church was going. Well to make a long story short, the ones that tended toward liberalism left, the conservative folk stayed. This brings me to the crux of my thoughts.

I seen a distinct difference in the two groups—the ones that stayed and those that left. Some of those that left appeared to show markedly bad attitudes, and spread all over their version of what happened—even over the internet where unsaved folks could see. They went around and talked to our Sunday school kids whose parents don’t come—even to at least 2 parents of those children. They were definitely trying to hinder and backstab those that stayed. There was horrible stuff said about the conservative crowd who still sit in the pews of that church. However, in the lives of those folk that were so hurt, I seen none of this. They did not defend themselves on the internet, they didn’t go around spreading gossip about those that left, and I seen several of them weep for the pastor that they couldn’t agree with, and for those that left. I seen a marked difference in behavior, and I came to conclusion that maybe the standards some holiness people hold are more important for one reason more than any reason that I have ever heard preached or taught. Maybe with some of them it is a sign that that person is willing to go the extra mile for God. Could it be the sign of a truly submissive heart? And could it be with some, that that one is truly in love with Jesus?

Now don’t get me wrong—I have also seen some folk with standards to the T, and yet they are as hypocritical as they come. Your spiritual relationship with God does not come with your standards, but I think mayhap sometimes your standards come from that spiritual relationship, and out of a heartfelt, deep desire to do wholly and fully as He wants, even to the extent of doing more than He wants just to be sure He is happy with you.

I also am not saying that you have to hold all our standards to be a Christian—just do what He tells you to do, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to do something more….! And if you feel comfortable being more liberal than the holiness crowd, just don't criticize--maybe some just have a pure and holy desire to please God.

Are you willing to do extra for God?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

President without a country

I recieved this in a email, and although Pat Boone is not my favorite person, I found him to make some very valid and disturbing points here.

Obama Sounds Like President Without a Country

Monday, June 8, 2009 1:15 PM

By: Pat Boone
Article Font Size

“We’re no longer a Christian nation.” — Barack Obama, June 2007
“America has been arrogant.” — President Barack Obama
“After 9/11, America didn’t always live up to her ideals” — President Barack Obama
“You might say that America is a Muslim nation.” — President Barack Obama, Egypt 2009
Thinking about these and other statements from the man who wears the title of president, I keep wondering what country he believes he’s president of?
In one of my very favorite stories, Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man without a Country,” young Army lieutenant Philip Nolan stands condemned for treason during the Revolutionary War, having come under the influence of Aaron Burr. When the judge asks whether he wants to say anything before sentencing, Nolan exclaims defiantly, “Damn the United States! I wish I might never hear of the United States again!”
Stunned silence settles like a pall over the courtroom. After a long pause, the judge sternly tells the angry lieutenant: “You have just pronounced your own sentence. You will never hear of the United States again. I sentence you to spend the rest of your life at sea, on one or another of this country’s naval vessels — under strict orders that no one will ever speak to you again about the country you have just cursed.”
And so it was. Nolan was taken away and spent the next 40 years at sea, never hearing anything but an occasional slip of the tongue about America. The last few pages of the story, recounting Nolan’s dying hours in his small stateroom — now turned into a shrine to the country he foreswore — never fail to bring me to tears.
And I find my own love for this dream, this miracle called America, refreshed and renewed. I know how blessed and unique we are.
But reading and hearing the audacious, shocking statements of the man who recently was elected our president — a young black man living the impossible dream of millions of young Americans, past and present, black and white — I want to ask him: “Just what country do you think you’re president of?”
You surely can’t be referring to the United States of America, can you? America is emphatically a Christian nation and has been from its inception! Seventy percent of its citizens identify themselves as Christian. Christians framed, wrote, and ratified the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. It’s because this was, and is, a nation built on and guided by Judeo-Christian biblical principles that you, sir, have had the inestimable privilege of being elected president.
You studied law at Harvard, didn’t you, sir? You taught constitutional law in Chicago? Did you never read the statement of John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and an author of the landmark Federalist Papers, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers — and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation — to select and prefer Christians for their rulers”?
In your studies, you surely must have read the decision of the Supreme Court in 1892: “Our lives and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”
Did your professors have you skip over all the high court decisions right up till the mid-1900s that echoed and reinforced these views and intentions? Did you pick up the history of American jurisprudence only in 1947, when for the first time a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson about a “wall of separation between church and state” was used to deny some specific religious expression — contrary to Jefferson’s intent with that statement?
Or, wait a minute, were your ideas about America’s Christianity formed during the 20 years you were a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ under your pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Is that where you got the idea that “America is no longer a Christian nation”? Is this where you, even as you came to call yourself a Christian, formed the belief that “America has been arrogant”?
Even if that’s the understandable explanation of your damning of your country and accusing the whole nation (not just a few military officials trying their best to keep more Americans from being murdered by jihadists) of “not always living up to her ideals”, how did you come up with the ridiculous, alarming notion that we might be “considered a Muslim nation”?
Is it because about 2 million Muslims live here, trying to be good Americans? Out of a current population of more than 300 million, 70 percent of whom are Christians? Does that make us, by any rational definition, a “Muslim nation”?
Why are we not, then, a “Chinese nation”? A “Korean nation”? Even a “Vietnamese nation”? There are even more of these distinct groups in America than Muslims. And if the distinction you’re trying to make is a religious one, why is America not “a Jewish nation”? There’s actually a case to be made for the latter, because our Constitution — and the success of our Revolution and founding — owe a deep debt to our Jewish brothers.
Have you stopped to think what an actual Muslim America would be like? Have you ever really spent much time in Iran? Even in Egypt?? You, having been instructed in Islam as a kid at a Muslim school in Indonesia and saying you still love the call to evening prayers, can surely picture our nation founded on the Koran, not the Judeo-Christian Bible, and living under Sharia law. Can’t you? You do recall Muhammad’s directives [Surah 9:5,73] to “break the cross” and “kill the infidel”?
It seems increasingly and painfully obvious that you are more influenced by your upbringing and questionable education than most suspected. If you consider yourself the president of a people who are “no longer Christian,” who have “failed to live up to our ideals,” who “have been arrogant,” and who might even be “considered Muslim” — you are president of a country most Americans don’t recognize.
Could it be you are a president without a country?
© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Va wedding

We went to Va last weekend for one of Shawn's niece's wedding. We stayed with another niece, and Shawn enjoyed time with his great nieces. The picture above is of 4 of them with Daniel, Jada, Nya, Gia, and Taila. We had an enjoyable time with them.

Here is Brienne, his oldest great-niece. We spent alot of time with her when she was a baby as her mother lived in this area during that time.

And here is Cami, his youngest great niece.

And here is the niece, Michelle, that we stayed with along with his sister, Donna, who traveled with us. Michelle is in the pink.

Here is Scott, Shawn's nephew by marriage. A terrific guy that we consider a great bonus to the family--although this is not a great picture of him!! He was not sleeping, but looking down at the little girls when I caught this picture.

One last picture--Little Nya in the wedding. She is so precious.
And now, we are home and finally recovered from traveling, and being away from home. I am afraid we are homebodies, and love being home entirely too much!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Forgiving and forgetting

"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it." -Confucius

I read this the other day, and it struck a chord with me. How many times do we hold unto our hurt when we are wronged. We say we forgive, but we don't let it go. We often consciously remember and remember.
I once taught a teen class. We talked about temptation. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it can become a sin if you continue to dwell on it. If you continue to think about it being a temptation, and how hard it is that you are tempted, eventually you may give into it and commit sin. A young couple are sitting on a couch making out, and going a little to far. They feel they just cannot control themselves--sexual passions are just too high! ...and then the girl's father walks in!! They immediately make a conscious effort to control themselves!! We can control a lot more things than we think we can. We can make a conscious effort to put things that tempt us out of our mind--refuse to even think about how hard the temptation is and how you must not give into it---REFUSE TO EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. It does work.
The same principle can work with hurts too. First of all, it is Biblical.Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." How does he forgive us? He throws our sins that we have committed against Him in the sea of forgetfulness.(Jeremiah 31:34, "...for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.") That is how he forgave us, and how we are to forgive others. Paul says in Philippians 3:13,14, "I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward." (Amplified Version) Those hurtful things that were done to you that you say you have forgiven, have you made a conscious effort to forget? Yes, things will happen that will make it well up, and trigger your memories, and it can hurt, but it is then time to push it away again--again forgetting the things that are behind. Technically, yes, you remember it, but in a larger sense, you have forgotten it, because you made a choice too. This is true forgiveness, and in this brand of forgiveness, the wrong can become nothing!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lessons from Jonah!

The storm raged, the ship pitched, and then voices intruded on Jonah's troubled dreams. "Sir! Sir! Wake up--we are all going to die!! How can you sleep?" Sleep fled as Jonah sat up and looked into the rough, unshaven faces above him. Dark rings encircled bloodshot eyes, and instantly he knew these men had been hard at work for sometime to save this wildly dipping ship that he was traveling on. How had he slept through this? He knew it had to be sheer emotional exhaustion. "What- what is it that I can do to help?" He asked hesitantly. " Pray to your God that He will save us. This storm has come out of nowhere!! There were no warning signs in the sky, and we have fought several hours to save this ship, man", they shouted above the noise of the tumult of the sky overhead, " We have all been praying, and our gods have not seen fit to save us. We must try your god too, for now the ship is creaking dangerously. If your god does not answer either, we must cast lots to see who it is that has sinned against his god, and why this evil has come against us!" Jonah ran a hand through his tousled hair, and then rubbed his long, Jewish nose as worry lines creased his forehead. He did indeed know why this evil had caused these men to be in danger. God had asked him to go to Nineveh and preach repentance of sin to the Assyrians there, and he, Jonah, known prophet of God, was fleeing from God. What a joke! A glimmer of a smile just barely tipped the corners of his lips--as if he could run from God!! Yet nearly as soon as the smile appeared, anger replaced it. Why would God ask him to go help these cruel enemies of his people! In the past there had been people God had just destroyed--why couldn't he do this now? Instead, He wanted Jonah to be untrue to his people, and go and preach repentance to these ungodly people who could very well put Jonah to death for preaching against their sins. At the very least, they would laugh at him-a well-respected man in his own nation. Then also, if by chance they repented under his preaching, he knew Jehovah God would show mercy on them. Jonah could not be an accessory to helping the Assyrians. Yet now God was punishing those around him for his disobedience. In that moment, Jonah knew in his heart of hearts he could not let these sailors be punished for his sins, and he knew at this point death was certain, so he made a decision. "Alas, my fellows, I must tell you a truth," he began, " I am the cause of this storm. I serve the one true and living God, Jehovah. He has called me to go on a mission that I do not want to go and do, so I have tried to flee. Yet He has found me here." Jonah swallowed a lump in his throat, and went on bravely. " You must get me off your ship and the storm will stop. Throw me overboard that you might not suffer because of my sin." Good men they were, and though they believed him, they could not bring themselves at first to throw this honest man over into the rampage of the storm's fury. However, when all else failed, there was naught one thing to do--toss Jonah, prophet of God, into the waves.

Jonah had thought when he was telling the men his story, he would rather die than go to Nineveh, but as the salty water splashed into his nostrils, and filled his throat, he was filled with fear. He wanted to live, yet was helpless. Yes, indeed the storm stopped immediately, but Jonah had not the slightest idea of how to swim, and he began to sink. In what he thought to be his last moments on this earth, as he was choking and feeling his life ebbing away, he felt a tremendous suction, as if he was being drawn into something. He could not get his eyes open in the water, so thought indeed it must be death! He felt himself swished unto a rough surface, very warm, and then felt the water ebbing away under his feet. The surface under him flexed, and suddenly he was another slippery journey, sliding down, down to a place that was unknown to Jonah. When the flexing motion stopped, and Jonah came to the end of his journey, he found himself in a hot, slimy place. The smell was atrocious. It smelled of perhaps decaying fish, and other unidentifiable substances. It took awhile for Jonah to come to his senses, and realize he was not dead. He was not even in hell. He opened his eyes and strained to see, but all he could see was pitch-black darkness . There was not a glimmer of light in sight. Noises were plentiful in this place--sort of like gurgling, swishing noises. He finally realized he must have been swallowed by a fish of some sort. Jonah felt death was even yet certain.

Three days he sat in the belly of that fish. The fish was alive and swam into the depths of the sea, yet Jonah, also alive, sat in utter darkness knowing death was eminent. There was no one to talk to, and it was horribly uncomfortable. The heat was almost unbearable, and the stench permeated every pore of his body. Bits broken down seaweed and fish clung to him, and every so often stomach acid would spray through the stomach chamber. It burnt Jonah's skin. Jonah felt, oh so alone. There was no-one that knew Jonah was even alive in the depths of the earth, so noone would try to help him. There was no chance noone could see him or even hear him. How could he have been reduced to such a sorry state?

Yet in his very aloneness, and the very depths of his despair, he realized he could be heard. He began to cry out to God. He began to repent and ask forgiveness. He began to worship God in that rank and desolate place. I quote Jonah's words, "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." The same God that he could not run from, also found him here!! He was not alone!
The Bible says, "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
Jonah had to have been quite a sight--his skin probably discolored, clothing in tatters(if indeed any were left), and his odor had to have been quite atrocious. I am sure it would have probably taken time for the smell to wear off, and his skin probably never recovered. But his soul was rejuvenated! He had been heard! He had come out of the most dire circumstances alive, and he was ready to make some changes in his life--he was ready to be obedient!
Of course, we do see in the life of Jonah that in the midst of his triumphants, he still had things to learn. Yet, we also a patient God who saw worth in Jonah, and kept working with him. Does this remind you of anyone?
We can learn so much from Jonah. We also get things set in our head, and get bull-headed. God continues to call us and work with us. And when we are in the lowest, darkest areas of our life, he still finds us, and he HEARS us. We each time might come out with some battle-scars, but we can also be more effective for God. Remember, He knows where you are, and he HEARS you!