Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Only Jesus/Calvary’s Love

By Greg Nelson & Phil McHugh

Only Jesus, Only He
Brings redemption, full and free
There’s a yearning in all our lives
That only Jesus satisfies

Calvary’s love will sail forever
Bright and Shining, strong and free
Like an ark of peace and safety
On the sea of human need

Through the hours of all the ages
Those tired of sailing on their own
Finally rest inside the shadow
Cast by Calvary’s love
Across their souls

Calvary’s love, Calvary’s love
Priceless gift Christ makes us worthy of
The deepest sin can’t rise above
Calvary’s love

Calvary’s love can heal the spirit
Life has crushed and cast aside
And redeemed till heaven’s promise
Fills with joy once empty eyes
So desire to tell the story
Of a love that loved enough to die
Burns away all other passions and
Fed by Calvary’s love
Becomes a fire

Calvary’s love has never faltered
All its wonders still remain
Souls still take eternal passage
Sins atoned and heaven gained
Sins atoned and heaven gained

A particular woman from Northwest Ohio went to a concert given by a certain singer at a specific church with a particular man, her husband, and their three kids. The singer spoke about the Lord and sang to his glory. He sang about the universe that our Holy God has created and how that God will finish the work He has started within our lives. He sang two songs in Spanish. This woman had no idea what he was singing in these two songs, but they sounded good! He spoke about how we are very aware that Christ died for our sins, but that we need to think about how He also died for our best. That is to say, even what we offer Him that is our best, is still tainted with sin and He died to redeem even these works. It was a great concert. The woman spoken of in this post was heard to say that she enjoyed the worship experience thoroughly and recognized that it was all to the glory of God, even her enjoyment.

Question: 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What is "Worldliness" part 3

Thank you for all the lively discussion here over the last several days regarding holidays and worldliness. I think it is so interesting to hear all the different perspectives. I was also thinking last night, I really like the blog for this purpose specifically: to discuss something with people from several perspectives. It helps me.

What I have been looking for is a good definition for this concept of worldliness. I have heard the word used a lot over the years … and it is even in our church covenant (which I noticed Sunday night … and that, along with another blogger’s post on that holiday thing, is what prompted all my thoughts) … but its meaning has sort of eluded me.

It should be stated clearly that the following is not a discussion on how to avoid hell and become fit for Heaven. To learn more about that, go HERE. or HERE. This has to do with how Christians should live life after they are assured of their salvation because of Christ's finished work.

I decided to look in the Strong’s concordance for the term worldly. (The concept of “worldliness” is found elsewhere without using the word itself.) I discovered this word was only used twice in the whole Bible! The first instance seems irrelevant:

Hebrews 9:1
Then, verily, the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

However, the second use, I think, gets right to the point and so I am going to include a large part of the context.

Titus 2
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Here it seems clear, Paul is saying that by turning from the sinful ways of the carnal man, and living uprightly, (self control, sobriety, love, purity, integrity, humility, trustworthiness, eagerness to do good) we will not be worldly. The world will have nothing bad to say about us and will have to resort to those creative ways they find to express the fact that they don’t like Christians and they don’t want God in their lives.

Paul also discusses this subject in Romans 12 and 13. He says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This includes “not thinking of oneself more highly than one ought to think” (pride). He goes on, “Repay no one evil for evil … as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” He also says, “Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

John touches on the subject of worldliness while not using that word:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world … all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2)

This is really pretty simple. The Lord is saying through his servants that we should not embrace the ways of sin in our hearts. We should turn from sin ... and that is turning from worldliness. It is clear that being worldly is not just superficial; it is not about how we "look" ... it is deep in the heart. It is selfishness, pride, lust.

We could also look at Proverbs 6 to get a good definition of worldliness. It describes what the Lord hates … haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. I think it would be safe to say that these are all the fruits of the natural man … the ways of the world.

2 Corinthians 6:14 and 17 discuss being not yoked together with unbelievers. “…what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” He goes on, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”

This passage seems to me to be talking about loving the truth, seeking the truth and not accepting false religion into your fellowship. The way of the world is to be “inclusive” and “relativistic” when dealing with religion … or the other extreme … clinging proudly and exclusively to a religion that is solidly false. The opposite of worldly in a religious sense is rejecting false religion and being totally open to God’s truth in His Word. That is what the Lord wants from us. He will receive us.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But we are to be holy in all manner of life. (1 Peter 1:14)

Does this mean “appear” holy? I think it means to really BE separate, different. This is what happens if we yield to the Spirit of God that is in our hearts (when we are born again) and not follow after the ways of our original self, the worldly person we started out in this life as. Then, what we are inside will manifest itself in our life. We won’t have to force ourselves unnaturally to “look” different from the world. We are different.

1 Peter 2:11-12 calls us to "... abstain from sinful desires which war against the soul." If we, while embracing the gospel, say “pass” to all the lustful filth and selfish godlessness all around us, people notice! That is why men of God are called to be “above reproach”. This separateness, combined with walking in newness of life and the good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in, will help us “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”

I know I have worldliness inside of me ... it is still there ... but by God's grace, I want to keep looking ahead to Christ and leaving that behind ... I thank the Lord that my salvation does not count on me doing so. Christ's righteousness alone is what I cling to. I hope this study on the term worldliness will be helpful to someone as it was to me while I did it. Most simply put, as regenerated people, if we turn from sin with open hearts toward God, we will not be worldly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An Open Comment About Halloween etc...

Some years back, John and I were discussing Halloween with our friend, Terry (he is of Mexican descent). I told them how, when I was a kid, my mother would never “buy” me a costume. I had to make up my own costume by finding things around the house. That meant I could be one of two things: a “Hobo” … or a “Mexican.” John and Terry laughed so hard when I told them this. Terry asked, “What’s a ‘Mexican’?” Well, I explained to them: we had a big sombrero in the basement, and my older sisters had owned these large ponchos … so I was a “Mexican” on many Halloweens and I always had a lot of fun. I loved Halloween as a kid!

Fast forward to the future … I find it ironic that I am now, in effect, defending a Christian’s liberty to participate in trick or treating with their children … because now … I really hate Halloween! I am always so glad when it is over. I can’t stand the fact that it is advertised in September! I can’t stand the way adults have started celebrating it, and the lewd, ridiculous ways in which they behave. I think unbelievers who are of the party variety take advantage of this time to get real naughty. The lascivious, drunken way they get is wicked and “worldly”.

What I am addressing in the previous posts are the ambiguous items ... that are not inherently sinful: the simple trick-or-treating of young children and their Halloween parties at school, carving a pumpkin, decorating a Christmas tree, etc... The other stuff that I mentioned above is worldly and sinful no matter what day it is done on!

Next Post: What is "Worldliness" part 3 (no more Holiday talk!)

If you want to read a good article about Christians and Halloween click here. (Thanks to JRush for referencing that article on his blog.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What is “Worldliness”? Holidays, part 2

Christians should be different from the world, and separate from worldly practices. Does this mean that we should not watch football? What about going to an amusement park? Should Christians attend Nascar racing events? Can we go to a decent movie? Can Christians listen to “worldly” music? What about “worldly” music with Christian words? Is any of this really “worldly” at all in the biblical sense of the word?

In the discussions about "worldliness", holidays, especially Halloween, seem to enter a different category. This is, I think, because of some association with religion. Let’s talk about that.

Ever since I have been a Christian, I have heard other Christians denounce the thing called “Halloween”. "It is the Devil’s holiday and is based in witchcraft and the occult. Why would a Christian ever let their children participate in such a display of wicked allegiance to the base things of Satan?"

First of all, I now object to the argument that if the history of a holiday is impure religiously, then it must be avoided by a Christian. For example, in the previous post, I touched on Christmas and some of its practices. These may have, at once, been instituted by false religionists (pagans). However, there are two reasons why that doesn’t seem to matter.

  1. Those religious aspects of the holiday practices are no longer present. The practices are superficial and empty.
  2. Partaking of the empty holiday practices is not partaking of the religion that may have once been there.

At one time, Christmas trees may have been a part of some sort of “earth worship” … but ... we do not worship evergreens now. At one time, witches and goblins (what are goblins?) may have been practicing something evil on October 31 … but ... when my kid wears a pirate outfit, he is not doing witchcraft, he sees nothing cultic, and he is not taught to worship the devil. Do you see the empty shell? The religion that may have once been there, is not there anymore in the practices that we have. So why is "trick or treating" any different than going to an amusement park?

Now, if a Christian were placing his faith in this stuff … that would be a problem! If we were looking to it for spirituality or salvation … a bigger problem!! … but … it has nothing to do with religion. Another thought: Paul (1 Corinthians 8) says that a Christian is not defiled by partaking of a false religion’s by-products, (he does instruct us to use love so as not to make a brother stumble - but that is another discussion.)

Finally, in respect to Halloween, this truly is kids’ stuff! I believe it is really inconsequential. The things that make us different from the world go much deeper than whether we recognize or rebel against a certain American holiday. In fact, “standing for” this kind of thing, has taken way too much energy and focus off of what that difference really is. This has been a distraction, I think, in my witness during past Octobers. I spent too many precious minutes and too much passion defending my reasons why Halloween was wrong, thus taking my loved ones' focus off of the real issues they must face. (Also, there are plenty of serious ways in which I am peculiar ... and all believers are … we don’t need to emphasize something like this!) I will delve further into a biblical look at “worldliness” in my next post (part 3) and leave the holidays behind!

What is “worldliness”, really? Can you see it? Do you know it when you see it?

Monday, October 24, 2005


Does anybody know how to do this template thing? I just want to "hide" my blog title without shrinking the space allocated to it. Who is the computer whiz?

UPDATE: NEVER MIND THE CRY FOR HELP. I figured out a backward way of fixing it. Who needs to know HTML anyways? (me).

What is “Worldliness”? Holidays, part 1

I really want to know what others think about this.

When I first became a follower of God’s Word, the people that influenced me personally took separation from certain worldly things to an unreasonable extreme sometimes.

  • Drinking and carousing was “worldly”. (I understood that one easily.)
  • However, smoking wasn’t “worldly” because it wasn’t mind-altering. (?)
  • Christmas was wrong and “worldly” because Christ wouldn’t want us to celebrate His birth, the important thing was His death. Besides, the celebrations were laden with pagan customs.
  • Even going to church on Sunday was “worldly” because that is what the “world” says religious people are supposed to do. “We should go to church on another day just so we don’t do it the ‘worldly religious’ people’s way.” (I saw the flaw in that thinking back then just as clearly as I do now.)

There were various parts of American life that were called out as wrong and “worldly”. Christians should stay away from these at all costs! At the time, I didn’t disagree with my somewhat dominating leader and I didn’t argue about it. I really didn’t think this view was all that reasonable, though, but most of the things in question didn’t really seem to have much value to me … they weren’t worth fighting over.

Then I left the people that had been such a big part of my life for my first five years as a Christian and I married John. (That is another story.) John and I were similar in our views about some of this. For example, in our very first home, we rebelled against the Christmas tree. We would not get one. We kind of chuckled as we acted this out, but we thought, “why do we have to go along with what the whole “world” is doing? Besides, Jesus wasn’t really even born in December.” (This thought remained for me: why celebrate His birth with such emphasis? … the important thing was His death.) John got an ornament of a blimp given to him at work and we hung it on our house plant “the jade tree” and laughed. We still loved all the pure, spiritual things that were associated with Christmas (many of the songs, the truth of God incarnate, the gathering of the church…) but we just decided the Holiday was “worldly” and therefore not a good thing to embrace.

Then came children. Our minds changed about Christmas and its trimmings. (Here’s a little background: neither of us grew up in a home that was “all about the Bible” or finding truth. There were religious/traditional celebrations. Both of us thought of Christmas and the family togetherness as a bright spot in our childhood.) We didn’t see the sense in not sharing these special American traditions with our own kids. Our singleness had allowed us to proudly separate from all things traditional, but having a family changes things. We had read of all the Druid/pagan practices/origins, but we weren’t going to be worshiping their gods. We certainly weren’t going to bow down and worship a Christmas tree! Even though these things associated with American Christmas have been questionable in the past, they were now simply “traditions”. It became clear to both of us, as we searched out the important “heart of the matter”, that Christmas for us is, at worst, a wonderful family-oriented traditional American celebration which is not bad, but good for familes and communities if conducted well. Why keep this from our children? It is good and positive, if dealt with rightly. It is the stuff of memories … and it is fun … and that is OK.

Of course, the wonderful fact of the hypostatic union should be talked about, and appreciated, throughout the year ... as should His death and resurrection. Furthermore, if we focus on Christ in a special way at Christmas, then it becomes more to us than simply an American tradition, but a wonderful, doxological time of the year and that cannot be bad.

Finally, what is “worldliness”? I would like input on this, as I have been pondering the definition of that word. (John 15:19 “you are not of this world.” …. Romans 12:2 “being not conformed to this world” come to mind, any other suggestions for defining “worldliness”)

  • (Is a holiday “worldly” because of the secular-ness of it?)
  • (Is a holiday “worldly” because of the pagan base of many of its customs?)
  • (If it is "worldy" in either of these senses, does that mean Christians cannot rightly participate without dishonoring God's glory?)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Invisible Fence

We installed an invisible fence about a month ago in preparation for our new edition to the family. We dug a little trench, buried the wire, drilled a hole in the side of the house so the wires could go into the basement and there we hooked them up to the transmitter. We tested the system. Yes, there was an invisible line that, if crossed, will shock whoever is wearing the collar with the little black receiver box and the two nice prongs on it (contact points). No, we didn’t test it on one of our children . . . (although my eldest son, 9, wanted to “try it”.) Kids just don’t need that kind of trauma. Or do we?

The purpose of the fence is this: it keeps the dog within the boundaries that you want her to stay within. This is for her safety … and for your peace of mind … and for the general peace of your household. (Freaking out over lost dog, driving around looking for it, hoping it didn’t get run over, or worse … bite someone, listening to fretting children, does not make for happy family moments). You train. The dog learns.

You start the training process by walking the dog on a leash, without the collar, over to the invisible fence. The fence is marked with little white flags. You let her see the flags. You tug on her collar gently when she crosses the flags so she becomes aware that something is there. This is called “flag awareness”. . . 2 days.

Next, you use the collar, and do the same thing, leading her toward the no-no zone, letting her cross. She gets zapped … (or, as more sensitively stated in the manual: she receives a “static correction”). You lead her back into the safe area and tell her “good dog!” This is repeated for several days. Next you go into the “distraction phase” which I think would be more aptly named, “the temptation phase”. (Throw a ball past the flags, have a neighbor walk a dog near the flags…) Finally, you move on to “unleashed supervision” and then “pet monitoring”. It is a beautiful thing!

Our dog figured it out after about the fourth time she got zapped, or “corrected”. She doesn’t like it! Currently, she stands on the driveway and watches the kids go off to school, or watches them playing in the yard across the street . . . and you just know she is thinking, “Man, I want to go chase them, but it is not going to be good, it is not worth it.” (I’m convinced dogs think.) She stays in our yard. Good dog. Happy people.

We have an invisible fence in our lives as Christians. It is called the Holy Spirit. We are not collared, but we know that when we go outside of His will, we will receive “correction” from the One who is monitoring us from within . . . and it will not feel good. Yet, just like that strong willed dog that I read about in the training manual, sometimes we are so determined to go after something that we think we want or need … we go for it … despite the consequences. In these cases, with a dog, we are told to purchase a “stronger collar”. What does the Lord do with us when we won’t respond to His gentle corrections and stay within safe boundaries?

(Hebrews 12:11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Biting off more than you can CHEW

I want to thank everybody for the input on how OPEN to be in the world of Blog. I have decided not to include my address and phone number on my personal profile. I have also decided that I will talk about my thoughts and feelings and just let it all hang out. My life will be logged...warts and all! If that makes me vulnerable, oh well.

In this photo provided by the Everglades National Park, the carcass of a six-foot American alligator is shown protruding from the mid-section of a 13-foot Burmese python Monday, Sept. 26, 2005 in Everglades National Park, Fla., after the snake apparently swallowed the alligator.

Have you ever volunteered to do so many things that you find yourself begrudgingly attending to them? This picture makes me think of a time when that happened to me.

It was the year when my youngest was a SIX MONTH old suckling. I had him … and a TWO year old … and a FOUR year old. . . I prayed .

We have a program at our church called MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) which is a special meeting time (with volunteers who babysit the children) for the mothers to have breakfast, do a craft and listen to a speaker. I loved going to the meetings (although it WAS a feat for me to get my three kids ready to be somewhere by 9 a.m.). Anyways, since I enjoyed the meetings … and the steering/administration of the group was by volunteers who fit the description of the title (M.O.P.S.) … I thought, “maybe that is something I should volunteer for.”

They approached me . . . I volunteered . . . This involved (two per month) extra, organizational meetings among the steering team, (besides just the monthly meetings where all the moms come together).

I also was a member of the choir and decided to participate in the Christmas Musicale, because I really love singing and it was a way to serve the Lord! Musicale involves going to weekly practices (beginning in August), and listening to tapes of the music to memorize it. As the Musicale draws closer, the practices increase to twice, and then three times a week. One also needs to obtain or make an outfit that fits with the program.

Being the conscientious mother that I was/am, I had the FOUR year old in preschool … which necessitated my loading up all the kids an extra eight times a week just to transport him to and from his classes … (where he learned how to cut paper up into strips!)

I also was on the Sunday morning nursery schedule once a month. I helped in Wednesday night AWANA.

I remember crying in frustration several times because I had bitten off more than I could chew. The moment it hit home that this was not right, was during a “moms day out.” This is when the steering teem of MOPS (mother volunteers) camps out in the nursery and watches all the other moms’ children while they go for two hours and enjoy some time out together…like shopping or eating at a restaurant. I remember standing there thinking, “I want to go, too … why do I have to stay here with ALL these kids … I get enough of KIDS!”

I was always on the go or … always being pulled on and tugged by my kids, and yes, my husband . . . I prayed . . . Then I repented.

My husband and I were studying about tithing and we were thinking about this passage in 2 Corinthians:

Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

God loves a cheerful giver . . . I applied this to my “service”. I immediately saw that even though my initial intentions were good, I was expecting way too much of myself as a mother of such young children. After finishing what I had started, (because I don't believe in quitting things halfway), I became more careful with what I said YES to. Now the kids are a little older, but I still only say YES to things when I can complete them with joy in my heart. Unlike the python in the picture, I stay in one piece … and I have God’s peace about that.

Sorry if the picture has been overexposed, but it inspires me!

It also makes me think of how I feel when I try to comprehend how divine soveriegnty and human freedom can be reconciled!

Monday, October 17, 2005

More Love to Jesus Christ

More Love to Thee (Philippians 1:9 & 10)
Author: Elizabeth P. Prentss 1818-1878
Composer: William H. Doane 1832-1915

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;

Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;

This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

We sang this hymn yesterday and I want to post it as a favorite. May the day never come when this is not my song. As an adopted child of God, I will never be put out of the Father's house. He will never put an ad in the paper "free to a good home" and cast me away. . . but that doesn't mean that I should neglect so great a salvation that has been given to me, that I currently posess, because of God's Grace! That doesn't mean that I should not desire greater fellowship with, and to please, my heavenly Father. I want to draw closer to Him every day - to love Him more. This is my prayer.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Blogger: how much is too much?

Category: Something that I have been thinking about and I want to know what others think.

No, I’m not going to talk about how much is too much TIME spent blogging (although that IS a good question…)
I am wondering about information.
How much is too much when it comes to the information that we share on Blogger?

For instance, when filling out the blogger profile, it wants to know your age, your sex, where you live, how much lint is in your belly button… . . Seriously, is it OK to tell the blogger world where you live? I entered Northwest Ohio because I didn’t think it was entirely safe to put my city. Why? I’m afraid someone might be able to steal my identity! Well, not really … wouldn’t they have to have my social security number? (Phew, I’m glad blogger didn’t ask me that!)

How much is too much?
Some bloggers, I think have thought about this question and taken the minimalist approach.
Others feel very comfortable sharing all about themselves and their family. (profiles used without permission)

How much is too much?
What about pictures of children … or even their names? If some blogger with a bent toward stalking knew your name, your city … couldn’t they look you up in the phone book, come to your house and call your child by name, then lure them away? If they have pictures of your beautiful children, could they be even more armed and driven to do such?

How much is too much?
What about personal information? I don’t just mean facts about you and your family, but personal things … feelings. I am a person that is much like an open book, I am not very hard to understand … I don’t think. (Maybe I should ask my husband about that.) I have been told by my mother all my life that I “wear my feelings on my sleeve.” Does this personality quirk make one “vulnerable” in the blogger universe? What could happen?

I'm really looking for input on this, seriously!

Friday, October 14, 2005

A NEW Category - Silly email Stories . . . . . . . . "Teachers and Educators"

According to a news report, a certain school in Garden City, MI was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the washroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror, leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back. Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done. He called all the girls to the washroom and met them there with the maintenance man. He explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, he asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY . . . There are teachers, and then there are Educators!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Three KINDS of “Adoption”

I took my three kids, while their dad was at work, to an “adoptathon” two weeks ago. We came home with this cute little mutt you see in the picture. We named her "Cookie". She was rescued from destruction by a group that calls themselves “Planned Pethood”. (I think they could have chosen a better name, because, as far as I know, they never council [female dogs] to get abortions.)

Cookie is a good little dog and she hasn’t made but 5 piddles in our house in two weeks. She is getting the idea that outdoors is her toilet and not my nice carpet. John and I installed an invisible fence ourselves and we just started today training her with it. (She doesn’t like that jolt!)

All of this puppy activity got me to thinking. Why do they call it “pet adoption”? Is that really the best choice of words? Why not pet purchase … or pet domination … or pet slavery? (slavery won’t work, because they don’t do a darned thing constructive!) How about pets as sojourners? I mean, are we really adopting them?

When a family adopts a real child, that child becomes a real part of the family. We don’t tell the other kids, “Oh, she will only live for about 14 years and then we will have to put her to sleep.” Or “don’t feed that child! She gets the little round pellets in the bowl over there.” Would we ever refuse medical treatment and opt for euthanasia because it costs $500? . . . or put an ad in the paper: “free to a good home” because our adopted child wasn’t “working out”? Would a family ever put their adopted child in a cage? (not usually!) Even more absurd: would you take that child to the doctor as an infant and fix him/her to make sure he/she can’t reproduce?! God forbid!

Families that adopt children are usually a special kind of people, I think. They have abandoned the idea that they need to see their own likeness in the child they call their own. They take someone else’s biological child and value that child just as if it was birthed from their own loins. And that child is their child, even if it doesn’t look like them or have their disposition.

After pondering these things, I started thinking about the Heavenly Father and how he has used the concept of adoption to explain to us what He wants for us. He has used this word, this concept “adoption.” We are not all God’s children as some like to think. We are fatherless children by nature because of sin, but He has extended His hand to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. By His death, burial and resurrection for our sin, we can be cleansed from all sin and filth and brought into the family of God. He wants us to have this forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by becoming part of Christ, who is His Son.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5)

Unlike our kind of adoption (of children not dogs), He doesn’t have just a small number of bedrooms in which to put a few sons or daughters. He can adopt many! Have you ever read how big heaven is? HUGE!!

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you . . . (John 14:2)

Furthermore, no human child has to be born twice to become a part of a loving human family … to become adopted … one birth is enough for a child to enter this world. (all the mothers said amen!) The new family just takes him/her home. God’s adoption of us is really something different than what we humans do with children. He somehow births us as a part of our adoption.

To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13)

Those who are saved or born again by having trusted Christ for His cleansing of sin have been adopted. As we grow in Christ, we somehow inherit His disposition and begin to “look” like Him (in our spirits) … even while in this flesh. We are REAL sons and daughters of God!

You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father(Romans 8:15)

Somehow, our future holds an even more complete assimilation into the family of God as He transforms our bodies into that which He was after His resurrection.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

So God’s adoption of us is not unlike our adoption of children, but it is so much more! He has rescued us from sure destruction! (I could write extensively about how God’s adoption of us is not like our adoption of dogs, but why?) OK . . . He doesn’t cage us, He wants us to reproduce, and He gives us all the best things to eat!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Religion as an Industry and Other Blogger Profile Curiosities ...

I filled out my blogger profile last week. When I saw the word “industry”, I thought of this definition: manufacturing productive enterprises collectively as distinguished from agriculture. I work in a church, so I felt I should enter "religion." How is religion an industry? Couldn't blogger have chosen a better, more inclusive term? Why not "field" or "profession"… hmmm….

And why does it say how many profile views one has had? Does the largeness of the number equate with your success as a blogger? Maybe it just shows how weird people think your comments are … I don’t know… that’s a real headscratcher.

I went to that Pyromaniac’s blog this week and I found the debate quite riveting. However, being into visuals like I am, I could not help but notice some of the strange photos people choose to define themselves (or not to define?). The following are some pictures that bloggers (who commented on that Pyro post) have chosen to represent themselves. (I just put a picture of myself ... is that too simple? )

I have one word for this guy: WHY?

This person must be, I think, suffering from a bit of low self esteem.

This person, on the other hand, thinks too much of himself, I'm afraid!

This one is just plain WRONG!!!!

Here's another thing to ponder out here in the blogosphere: (For right now, I'll leave the deep things for Mr. Contender and his ilk.) What kind of a person uses the blogger profile question to decide on a theme for a special photo-shoot?! There is something spontaneously quirky about that.

The spookiest person (not!) was the one that appeared a few months ago over at Mullin's Musings . . . Why bother??!!

What a World!

(I don't know anything about the bloggers whose icons I used here ... I just think their icons are FUNNY! ... this was all in fun ... I hope it is understood ... "no offense intended")

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Something I have been working on

Every year our church gives a great gift to this community here in Northwest Ohio and Southeastern Michigan (Toledo area). We present our annual Christmas Musicale. This is something that our choir starts practicing for in August. We begin construction on the sets in our auditorium in November. It is really quite enjoyable for those of us who believe that Jesus was the Messiah and know Him as our Savior.

I know from talking to people that I have invited, that it is also enjoyable for those who are not in the camp of Christ because of the sheer beauty of the music. We have a large choir with excellent solo vocalists, duets, ensembles and a full orchestra made up of volunteers from our own congregation. (I hope it doesn't sound like I'm bragging).

More importantly, our pastor will preach a message that is aimed at those who may come because of the season, but who have never been born-again, that they might hear the message of salvation and respond. Actually, my brother started coming to this church last January after coming to the Christmas Musicale ... and wanting to hear more. He became saved sometime since then.

I have the privilege of designing the mailer that goes out to invite those in our community to come. (I enhanced some clip art for the manger scene - not my own drawing.) We have a large mailing list (I don't really know where all the names come from - not my department.) They have to buy a ticket for $2 because that makes it seem more valuable ... they commit to coming if they pay some money, no matter how small. I just printed 4500 of these on our color copier last week. (I work there part time.) If any of you have people in this area that you wish to receive this, email me their address and I will send it to them - it is a tri-fold brochure, taped shut with the address and stamp on the back, no envelope.

I love my church!!! Sometime I will do a post on all the years I was a Christian and didn't go to church because a curmudgeon brother in Christ convinced me there was no church good enough, even though this wonderful congregation was right around the corner!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Something that I have been thinking about and I want to know what others think about ... DEBATING CALVINISM

Should I read this book?
... Is it worth the time?

In the first year I was saved, I read through the Bible once, and started it a second time when I latched onto a certain radio Bible teacher that helped me a lot. There was one subject that he brought up that I hadn’t really thought about while studying the Bible on my own: the Bible's teaching on predestination. He talked about the differing ideas of freewill and election (while never mentioning the acrostic TULIP) and then he said that his conclusion was simple: BOTH predestination and free will are true … we just can’t understand completely how they work together. He used the illustration of walking through a door that says “whosoever will” on one side, and then after you walk through, looking back at the same door from the inside and above it, you read “chosen from the foundation of the world”. I guess he implied it was a mystery. (Having been so turned off by the many “mysteries” in the church I grew up in), I’m surprised I did, but I accepted this viewpoint. I never really thought about it much after that. If I came to a verse that suggested predestination, I would surrender myself to being too feeble of mind (as a human being) to grasp so great a perplexity. Don't get me wrong, I am not afraid of doctrine, I really enjoy digging deep into the Word of God and finding His treasures.


A friend of my husband brought it up to us and was stressing its importance. My husband, John, told me he had thought about it a lot before, and was ready and willing to help me understand. He hadn’t placed much importance on it, and in all of our discussions we had never dealt with this subject extensively. We had never debated it. John then told me how he was a four-point Calvinist. I was a little confused about what this all meant, so he gave me the small paperback simply entitled “TULIP”. I read this book and it completely floored me. How could people really believe this? I had been studying the Bible and was sure that Christ had died for all of mankind ... and that His invitation had gone out to all ... and that they would all be responsible to respond ... which they were completely able to do ... so therefore would be without excuse … and on and on.

The only two points I could accept were the first and last because I do believe that people have nothing good to offer God and because I could see, in scripture, that Christ would not lose one saved one (I’m simplifying a little here). I thought of all my lost loved ones that seemed so defiant toward the true gospel and I was quite disturbed … were they unable to repent and be saved … would God create these people with no chance of redemption? What kind of a person was He? I was so pale over this…it even caused me to doubt the goodness of God, which is a sickening thing for a child of God to do.

I talked to my husband about this nightly for months as I tried to reason through it. I never became convinced because of the verses on the other side that were contradicting this teaching that was so new to me. I cannot stress enough how disturbing this was to my soul because of the truth that I feared might be there, and what it implied about my loving God. (I wonder if other people have experienced anything like that).

Then I read a book…Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom by Samuel Fisk. It really helped me to, once again, put this thing in the “mystery” column while understanding that predestination is for the Christian (Romans 8:29). I began to see the predestinated ones as more of a group that was open, not individuals predestined to join that group. It seemed like once a person was born-again (by responding to the drawing of the HS, he would then be predestined for all that God had in store for His church). Anyways, I was content with this understanding and put it all back to bed.

Then I found the blogosphere.

Dave Mullins posted some articles about it and I found Jeremy (who is a very patient person) with his series on TULIP. This brought me to a new concern over TULIP. I am not deeply disturbed as before, but I just don’t understand why this is so important to so many people that they have embraced it with such abandon. So I guess you could say…I am open to some more scriptural reasoning.

Someone suggested a book, “Debating Calvinism”. But I am a little torn…is this worth my time and energy? My brother, Pat, recently was saved and we were talking about doctrine and how Christians sometimes disagree … I told him I was in the disagreement last summer with Dave Mullins (who had been meeting with my brother when he was born again) over TULIP. My brother didn’t know what TULIP was, so I briefly explained the debate. Pat is very much evangelism-minded as a new Christian, wanting to tell the world of the joy of salvation and the deliverance from sin's penalty. His response got me thinking … he told me he thought this was a great distraction which Satan was using to draw our eyes off of what is important in our Christian lives. Hmmm … out of the mouth of babes … what do you think?


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