Monday, June 22, 2009

"The Other Book"

So in addition to the IBLP study I'm doing, I currently switch off with Raising Godly Tomatoes and another book. These are the questions for study this week from "the other book". Which I'm hesitant to list the Title so as not to confuse or set you up with preconceived ideas about the answers. Seek them out for yourself. I would love to hear any thoughts or comments.



1. Suppose it were possible to write to the original apostles, asking them about church life. Do you suppose they would answer back that they expected you to follow their examples regarding church practice or would they have encouraged you to follow a way of your own devising?



2. How can the axiom form follows function be applied to the way that the apostles first set up and organized churches?



3. What passages in the New Testament indicate whether there was a basic uniformity of practice in all New Testament churches or whether each was unique and different?



4. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for holding to their traditions but Paul praised the Corinthians for holding to his traditions. Why the difference?



5. Why is it important to make a distinction between apostolic tradition, as found within the New Testament, and the later tradition of the church fathers, as found in history? Which should be given preference? Why?



6. Mosaic law was paradigmatic in nature. How would the paradigmatic principle apply to commands in the New Testament to follow specific apostolic traditions?



7. How might Philippians 4:9 apply today with respect to the way that Paul organized churches?



8. What gave the apostles authority to establish patterns that all churches are obliged to follow?



9. What is the difference between holding to apostolic traditions and mindlessly copying everything seen in the New Testament (wearing sandals, writing on parchment, studying by oil lamps, dressing togas, etc.)?



10. Jesus washed His disciples' feet and the Jerusalem church practiced communalism. How can we determine what is and is not intended to be an apostolic tradition?



11. What are some of the apostolic traditions for church practice that are often neglected today?



12. What should we make of the fact that there is general scholarly consensus regarding the actual practice of the early church?



13. How, exactly, should today's church view New Testament patterns of church practice? Are the traditions of the apostles just interesting history or should they constitute some kind of normative church practice?



14. Some think it folly to try to recreate the "primitive" first-century church, since it was far from perfect. God expected His church to mature, to grow up, beyond the infancy state, they say. As much as anything, early believers are seen as examples of how not to function as a church. Besides, it is argued, it is impossible to behave exactly like the first-century Church since we no longer have the original apostles with us. How would you respond to this argument?



15. Why is historical church tradition often given preference over New Testament historical tradition?



16. Does the church you fellowship with give careful attention to New Testament patterns, ignore them almost totally, or select cafeteria style which apostolic examples will be followed? How do you feel about this?



There you have them. Just a little light reading and studying for this week. psh. Just so you know, I don't even know the meaning to some of these words, so I have a long haul in front of me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to Live a Life That's Not Boring

There truly is a book about this very subject. And probably there are many that would view our lives as boring and suggest I purchase the book straight away. And I understand and, but I'm ok with that. Just like I was ok with the fact that I heard that teenage girl comment today that she thought my shirt was ugly.

I wish I was better at documenting our lives with photos. I carry my camera with me, but rarely think "Oh, I'll take a picture!"

I joked recently that I have no social life at all any more. But this week I did, just not the social life I used to have and one that I doubt will impress anyone.


Monday was the 3rd night of our cake class and our final project is due this next week. I'm so nervous! There really isn't a pass or fail, or even a certificate...although I might print one up for myself. :) Just complete the class and hopefully not stink as badly as when you started.


Tuesday night I hit the town with my girlz. Or at least we went and got a cookie, (I had coffee) and sat in the fancy coffee place and chatted before covering every square inch of Wal-mart twice and the bathrooms three times.


Wednesday night a couple of us ladies got together for coffee, dessert and a mini makeover birthday party for a friend.


Thursday night I had late coffee with a friend. Wonderful, deep conversation.


(I'm seeing a normal addiction, um, I mean trend of coffee, but all the social dates are abnormal, honestly. Me even leaving the house, much less alone for something for me is quite an event. And if you are concerned about me leaving Allen out so much...the man just went hog hunting last weekend and left tonight to go fishing, so trust me, he's good.)


Friday night, we were invited to supper at a friend's house. I was honored and excited to go as I really have enjoyed each time I've gotten to spend with this gal, but life has got in the way and I admit, I am terrible at thinking I'm too busy to just stop to make fun plans versus sticking to the "to do" list.


I knew that her husband had to eat gluten free and was sure that we would get to try something new to us, but I was also confident in her cooking skills. However, I was not confident in my children's etiquette skills. So we went through the formalities of reminders.


"What do you do if you don't like the food?" I asked.


In bored unity they answered, "Eat it and say 'Thank you' ".


Then Gabby pipes up, "Just eat it and if it's really gross you can just vomit when you get home."


I'm glad to inform you that there was no need for vomiting to top off the evening. We had delicious corn bread muffins chicken enchiladas, peach chutney salsa and a spicy salsa. And not only is she a talented cook, this gal might just be the next HGTV star. This woman can decorate. And on a shoe string budget! Everywhere you looked in her house it reminded me of Pottery Barn, which she said is the secret to her success...their ideas in placement. Still...it takes talent.


Allen then went and finished an emergency after hours job, (which I was informed that I'm still booking him too much and to which I informed him that he is salaried and needs to make up for the winter hours.) Next dad loaded the older kids up at 9:30pm and took them to the Rodeo. Brian was so excited to sport his new UltraSuede Stetson Black Cowboy hat that I snatched up at a yard sale for a quarter earlier that day. And if you don't know how incredible of a deal that is, check this out.

Friday all day, had been a rather long, extremely hot day. The kids and I had hit the yard sales. A lot of them. We got some rather great deals. We had prayed before we left that we'd find some of the items on our "would like" list as well as our regular purchases list. I just recently read a good rule of thumb when looking at yard sales/thrift shops: Shoot for 90% less than the original price of the object.


My list of exciting finds (at least to me)

$1 a bag clothes - that had 1 pair of corduroy pants, 1 pair of camo pants, 2 pair of jeans, 1 of which were a brand new pair of wranglers (normally $14.95 new) all for Brian and a swimsuit for Gabby, 2 shirts for the girls to wear to the one room school house or dress up.

.50cent-new kids sprinkler that they have been playing in all afternoon. Can that replace bath time?

$1 - for a box of home interior jar candles some new and others only slightly used, to put back for winter

$5 - sofa cover in red, new. (this has been on our list for a long time, cushion covers are hard to wash!)

$2.50 JCPenny home collection drapes for the front room also in red and beige

$3.00 for an ottoman/coffee table/extra seating in the front room (in browns and red) and all of my red decorations were from different places and they all coordinate.

.75cents - 3 American Girl Books

$5.00 - working Singer Sewing Machine (this was a prayer request-Wendy has inspired me lately to at least attempt sewing again.)

$1.00 - 1 pair of boots for winter for Gabby and 2 pair of sandals for the girls

$4.00 - 1 wooden tee ball bat and 1 aluminum softball weapon, um I mean, bat

.25cents for the rooster rug that I've been eyeing at WalMart for 2 months.

$3.00 For a microscope to check out bugs and I'm sure blood at some point.

$3.00 for 3 pair of jeans for Makensie for next year. (They were even slims and still had the tags on them)

.50cents for a pair of winter boots for me, couldn't tell they've ever been worn.

$3 for 2, yes 2 bikes for Brian. We got the 2nd one for the tires to replace the ones on the 1st one. So Allen and him can have a little build-a-bike session.

$5.00 for over the toilet shelf and cabinet unit (also has been on our prayer list as there is little storage in the bathrooms) These were $78.00 at WalMart.

$2.00 for 2 Princess/Tinkerbell costumes for Halloween, um, Fall festival, for the girls

.25cents for a Tinkerbell tulip bucket for candy collection

$1.00 for Double H cowgirl boots THIS exact new pair for my budding horse enthusiast

$1.00 for new gymnastics's suit. It's ok to use this as a swimsuit, right?

$1.00 for Horse flannel blanket for Gabby.

.50cents for black dress shoes for Makensie. The crocks just weren't cutting it with the dresses any longer.

$10.00 for a small side table that matches my Bombay bedside tables and jewelry box.

$40.00 for an antique buffet for the kitchen (which I had only planned on spending $20, but my husband didn't follow the "say no thanks and walk away slowly to give them time to counter offer" plan.

$2.00 for a bookshelf, since Mr. "I can build that" hasn't

$1.00 on misc toys to keep the peace. People are so generous to actually give kids stuff, especially when kids say things like, "Can I have this?" or if something is marked 25 cents and a cute little person hands over a penny and walks on.

.25 cents on a gallon jug with the push tab for kids to help themselves.

$1.50 on 6, yes, 6! amazing square dance dresses that I plan to follow Wendy's instructions with the new sewing machine and make up some really cute aprons for self and Christmas gifts.

$2.00 for a giant electric roasting oven, in case I ever actually get to have Thanksgiving. I'm already thinking this item needs to find a new home and was not a sound thought out purchase.

$7.00 total for some wall and home decorations plus a shelf for the other bathroom and some gifts that I cannot disclose in case its for one of the three readers that visit this site. :)

$5.00 for 31 books, most are Scholastics, some came with tapes, some are read alouds, 1 is a complete curriculum for 1st grade, several chapter books and several devotional books. The book "Captivating" which was on my wish list. And is a picture book of Claude Monet (one of the girls' favorite artists)

.25cents for a multiplication toy/workboard

$1.00 for a life jacket for Wyatt - or Kathryn whenever she needs

$2.00 for a sheet set and 2 pillow cases, they look brand new. Don't even ask why we need a spare set of sheets...you'll get an earfull of frustration.



All in total: $117.25. All for less than the cost of a mediocre sewing machine. I admit that's a lot of money for yard sales. But I'm still very pleased. Allen called it my little bonus for helping him so much lately.

Total estimated value if it were all bought new: $4069.01 and I didn't have to pay tax which would have been another $366.21, or shipping costs ...

I used to go to sales all the time and then got addicted, and now remember why. So for the past 2 summers I only went one day each summer. I'll be starting my 12 step program for yard saleaholics next Friday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And There Was Evening and There Was Morning

Why did God say it that way? I had personally always thought of the evening as the end to the day. Time to unwind and reflect. Some days to cry and just breathe. Sometimes to just fall in bed spent or veg out in front of the TV. However, it appears that God designed our days to begin in the evening. Why would He do that? Why does it matter?

I have heard it said "we don't get up on the wrong side of the bed, we go to bed on the wrong side." Quilty as charged. I can survive on less sleep than 8 hours and feel good and so I push the limit, to 7, 6, sometimes 5 hours or less if there is a lot to do. But that sets the mood for me getting grumpy and tired and not thinking clearly the next day. But if I know what I've got going on, do my prep work, have my game plan, think over my goals, go to bed at a decent hour so I can get up and started on time, the next day always seems to go smoother. But I'm not the quickest student and haven't been 100% consistent with this.

Another challenge with this IBLP study was to go to bed meditating on the scripture, praying for wisdom for areas of concern and repenting for a clean heart so that you would have a clean head as you laid in upon your pillow.

Why would it make a difference? Psalms 16:7 tells us, "I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons." God can talk with us and give us insight and direct us even in our dreams. Maybe because this is when we are actually quiet enough to listen. When we meditate on His word, we gain wisdom and just as Prov 8:12 says, "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions." So if you need a solution to a problem, repent, pray about it before bed and truly contemplate the scriptures. See if you don't awake with an answer or idea.

Psalms 119:130 "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The word of God brings light to darkness. It is a path unto our feet. The more we read the more we understand. The more we focus on it the more we comprehend. God Himself in Spirit can teach us.

I pray you have a great day tomorrow by having a great night tonight.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Easy on the Eyes

Our "bug man" is a friend ours. He is very nice, does a great job and rather easy on the eyes. He was here to spray the house this morning and I knew the girls had took notice of Mr. Eye Candy previously after I told them that Ken would be here in 2 hours, and when it had been exactly two hours, Gabby announced that he was officially late. When he did show up, on the way to the door, I turned and said to the girls, "Make sure to be..." and Gabby interrupted with, "Cute." I said, "No. Polite." And then I did a double take and laughed as I watched her adjust her headband and smooth her hair. Oh, brother.


As Ken sprayed around the house he was joined by two chatty little girls following his every step. Gabby even came in and got the keys to unlock the back gates for him so it would be easier than going around the house. Makensie tried to pull her stackable storage unit away from the wall to help out and at every turn there were 2 little girls assisting. Brian was completely unaffected by this exciting event and continued on with his cars.


Even as Mr. EC was leaving, Makensie was following him out the front door offering him candy. I thought to myself. "Gee, I wonder if my girls have some little crushes."


Makensie and Gabby joined me in the kitchen and Gabby said, "He's very nice, huh?"

I answered, "Yes he is."

Then she said, "He's very cute too, huh?"

hmmm. "Yes, he is a nice looking man."

Makensie then asks, "Is his wife still alive?"

I had to stop and decided whether to continue the conversation or laugh. I told her that yes, his wife was still alive, and asked her, "why? Were you hoping to marry him?"

She started stumbling all over and said, "oh, no. Nothing like that. Just wondering."

Then Gabby wanted to know, "How old will he be will I turn 18?"

"He'll probably be 45 years old." I answered.

"Oh GROSS!" was Gabby's reply

This was the end of the conversation.

Back to the Command at Hand

So you may all get sick of reading about this repentance issue before I'm done posting about it as I'm learning so much.

John the Baptist, Jesus our Lord, His disciples, Peter, Paul, they all went out and preached for people to repent and turn from their sins. Before they could start with the lessons on building a great Kingdom for God or doing good, they had to start with some clean up work.

How many churches to we have in America? In Siloam Springs alone? How many of those know there members well enough to practice the instructions in Titus to confront a man about needing to repent and turn from his sins? How often are their sermons on the seriousness for us to repent and clean up the body of Christ before moving ahead?

I read a great/difficult to swallow, article and the author was not listed otherwise I'd share their name. He stated that oftentimes in this generation we gage the health of our church by members. If attendance is high, we must be doing something right. If there are a lot of activities, if there is money in savings, if we have a big building we must have a successful ministry. But how does God tells us to measure our success?

Christ's last words to the church was to repent. He wanted us on fire for HIM and knew that couldn't be done if there was seperation between us and God. Gabby was taking a bath yesterday and was just disgusted because 1st of all Wyatt got in before her with grimy feet and there was dirt and grass in the water. 2nd of all it was lukewarm. She wanted to know how could she enjoy it and relax when it wasn't clean and hot water?! Exactly! God wants this in our lives. He wants our hearts and lives to be clean from sin and hot for Him. The lukewarm are like vinegar in His mouth and to the non-Christians alike.

Maybe this is part of the attraction of the Mega churches that we see now days. We've attended a mega church in previous towns and at the time loved it. The pride of being part of the biggest church in town, almost like we wanted a bumper sticker to advertise it. The free breakfast, the fun classes of many choices, the huge playland that our kids never wanted to leave. And we were either introduced as visitors in a Sunday school class that was as big as some churches (3 weeks in a row), or else no one said anything to us and us not to anyone else because who knew if they were new or if they had been there for years. The only couple we really knew was the one that invited us. There is a sense of safety by staying anonymous and blending into the crowd. No real accountability to someone specific. And definitely not to everyone in the church. Plenty of activities to fill our time with other Christians to make friends. Isn't that one of the instructions as well? Come together with other believers? Yes. And...more on that later too.

But just as a traitor in the front lines, kills the squad, the body of Christ is only as strong as is weakest link. We must uphold each other and live not as if it only affected us, but live as one accord and realize that whether we know it or even want it or not, by proclaiming we know HIM, others are watching us. We need to hold ourselves to the highest of standards.
Quoting the article: "Evangelical Christianity is strategically below the New Testament standard. We must have a better grade of Christians. Increased numbers of Christians hazy in their convictions and weak in their dedication is not enough. We must have a reformation. The first business of the church out not to evangelize, but to get ready to evangelize through repentance. We must improve the quality of our churches for converts tend to reproduce the quality of the church that converts them. The church today is rich and increased with goods, buildings and people, yet we forget that the goodness of God should lead us to repentance. We spend more on chewing gum and dog food than for foreign missions. Sometimes I think we have too much and know to much. We know what kind of revival we are going to have then invite God in to join us." Ouch.

We should desire greater depth in the church not just greater width. I truly believe there is a stirring in the church body right this moment. And that stirring is going to sweeten as we have allowed the sugar to settle to the bottom of the lemonade.

Our churches are so well organized with business meetings and committee chairs and officers and paid secretaries to keep tract of the unending events that is is difficult to allow any freedom. This is where I'm probably going to toe a line, but I personally believe we have as a whole have veered off course and lost the vision from what church was originally intended to be, starting as long ago as 300AD. And I'll be posting on this shortly regarding the early church. The devil isn't fighting church, he's joining it. He loves to see us Christians get so wrapped up in the church activities and plans that we aren't out in the rivers fishing for men.

When hubby goes fishing he chooses the right timing and place where he knows or at least hopes the fish will be running. He has never chosen to go to a muddy stagnant water hole and expected success. This article also asked, are we trying to only fish in our church building? How often do you have "prospects" of non-Christians walk thru your door? This is how we should measure the success of the church. If we are living lives that are desirable to non-Christians they will be coming to seek us out and to get to know our God. If the only new visitors you have are already Christians then it's just more social club members. So the article challenged us to not take this club lightly as our weekly get together. But to sharpen ourselves as iron sharpens iron. To not waste our time together by just attending and not delving deep into the hearts of each other as friends.

Are we clean? Are our lives representative at all times of the Christ we know? When they aren't are we quick to repent? Are we being fishers of men or are we just alumni?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Forgiveness without Repentance?

I posted a great question from a friend a couple of days ago. I have thought about it many times. God requires a repent heart to find a restored relationship with Him? Yet we are instructed to love our enemies. I'm really not sure I'm wise enough to answer this question. Here are my thoughts and as always, I'm no scholar...and even it I was, I'd still say, go the the MAN himself and HIS WORD. I just feel like that is good advise, even the most wonderful trusted pastor is still a sinful man and can make mistakes. I have come home many a Sunday's and had to reteach my kids as to the TRUTH of the word. God didn't make the Bible written in code that only the most genius of theologians can understand it. It is a living book written to speak to each and every common man.

My best understanding is that when we sin, we are not losing our salvation. Once we accept Christ into our hearts we are saved. We can however lose our close relationship with God and we know that our hardened hearts and sins can cause God to turn a deaf ear to our pleas, our prayers and our cries. If we are living an unrepentant life, He can choose to take that hedge of protection away and let us rightfully reap what we've sown. When we sin, the only one that we sin against is God. We we commit the sin of lying, yes, we hurt others, but they have nothing to do with our salvation. That comes from God. So it is only against Him that we are sinning.

God does not say He doesn't love us, He just allows that free will with deserved consequences for our sins. And stays there until we are repentant. Just as a parent with a child. So why would He go one step further and tell us, "“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you …” (Matthew 5:44)? Why can't we have that same freedom to distance ourselves from those who have hurt us? And yet we are not instructed to just tolerate. Just smile a kind smile. Just be polite and don't befriend them ever again. We are told to love them. Ugh. Kinda like, "eat your liver and spinach, it's good for you." Are you kidding me? I'd rather starve. I'd rather not have to bend over backwards to make nicey nice with my husband when he has unjustly hurt me. And to be honest, this was a hard one for me today as hubby and I had a rough start to the day. How can he possibly know the depth of my wound unless I make sure he knows with my quietness? My distance will show him that I'm here, but that I don't really want to be around him. Aren't I the martyr by just keeping my anger and pain to myself? Aren't I such the good wife to just be nice and not say all of what I was entitled to say?

But am I? “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you …” (Matthew 5:44). I tell my kids when they are arguing, do not repay evil with evil. Take Brian a treat, or see if Gabby wants something to drink, after all love covers all sins. But to take that above what I'm humanly capable of and love and bless an enemy? To go good to someone who hates me? How can I? How can I be expected?

We can 1st come to Him and share our hurts with Him. He cares deeply about our hearts, he knows the tears we shed. He is the one who will bring justice. I have to admit it is easier for me to forgive others outside my own home sometimes than my own husband. I have to be quick to go the the Lord and tell him how angry I am, share with Him my frustrations and let Him know that I don't think I can do it. We also have to be quick to ask for forgiveness for our bitterness before it takes root. But to go the next step and act? What can we do for an enemy? "A gift given in secret, turns away wrath." (Provs 21:14) Giving a gift to someone helps move towards that loving feeling and usually softens both hearts. As long as we aren't going around announcing what we did. That gift can be a wide variety of things that best fits the person and their love language. What does it show of God Himself to an unbeliever that is watching us or who was the enemy when we do the unnatural or impossible or even what the secular world considers unnecessary or even weak? It shows a love like many have never known. Do we want to be right or do we want to be righteous in His sight?

I do not like conflict so it has been somewhat easy for me to let things go. But it is usually over time, after I've had enough time to recover and pull myself back up. Time heals all wounds, so to speak. But by the time, time had healed the wound, I wasn't really viewing them as enemies, but rather just as a lost relationship. I had lost the opportunity to go above and beyond and love them while we were enemies.

This scripture doens't tell us that the enemy has to repent to receive our love. Maybe this is because later in scripture it gives reference to how to handle a conflict with "brother/fellow Christian" and reference as to handle a conflict with a fellow Christian in the body of Christ. Both of which are entire other posts. Here is a previous post.

Save us father from bitterness. Help us not be cruel. Teach us to turn our foes into friends and our persecutors into partners for preaching. Give us the strength and wisdom and to let go of our pride so that we can love our enemies even when it goes against everything in us. Help us to trust that someday you will bring justice and we pray that we will not try to take on that job. Help us to pray for our enemies and love them as if they were our very family so that there can be no defilement of Your name because of our weaknesses. Lord forgive us where we have wronged you and lead us on your path for future relationships.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too.

A friend and I completed Class I of our cake decorating course. I have to admit that I am so thankful that I took course I. I thought, "I've done some before, maybe I can quiz out and move straight to course II." So SO thankful I did not. Now I know why my cakes looked like this: not smooth, not flat, the picture not even.




(Gabby's 7th birthday cake)
So after the course I'll post one with my new found skills and hopefully there will be a measurable improvement. And all the ladies that send me messages last night that want me to teach you when I'm done, you may want to wait til I post a final project here in a couple of weeks before you sign up for my class after seeing the above picture. :)
-----------------------------
Conversation:
My mom: Did you pay for that cake?
Me: No. I made it myself.
My mom: Good. I'm glad you didn't pay someone for that.


Monday, June 01, 2009

The Weekend Update

What a fun weekend. We took the kids to the drive in and met some friends there Saturday night. They were so excited and had no idea until we pulled in. The features were UP and Hannah Montana The Movie. Some of us watched UP and the others of us watched Wyatt crawl in and out and up and down, hop up and down the drive, get in other people's van's and grab other people's food, take the kids to the bathroom, get another slice of pizza, wipe hands and faces and answer questions about the movie. We did NOT stay for the 2nd feature. The girls and I had already seen it for Makensie's birthday and I was exhausted from worry about where little man was heading at all times.

Saturday we were graciously invited to have supper with friends. He is a mean griller. We've had several of his masterpieces over the years and last night had a smoked brisket. Yummy.

Also over the weekend, I've touched up on my Super Metroid skills. Brian enjoys to play video games and it is so encouraging to him with I just watch him play or ask him how far he has gotten in the game. But he loves it when I will sit down and play with him some too. I've actually enjoyed myself more than I thought I would.

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