Thursday, January 29, 2009

Definition of church

You may not agree with this post! Read with caution!
This journey I am on has often been a dry, dusty path. And then sometimes a newly paved, smooth road. And more often than I like, a rocky broken road with dangerous pot holes that have the potential of putting me in the ditch. However, I am learning that this road...this journey that I am on is always under construction and some how, some way I will reach my destination one day. But it is my journey. I am taking His hand and seeking truth.
Even if it is a lonely path.

I have attended Sunday school and church my entire life. But as I have grown into a middle-aged adult I have become more and more dissatisfied with church-going. I have struggled with this and have had a difficult time pinning it down until I fell into one faith-threatening pothole after the other over the course of two years. One pothole I recently climbed out of was almost fatal. Fatal, that is, until I allowed Jesus, and no one else, to lift me out of it. I admit, there are many well-meaning people in the church; however, I believe our churches are diseased and sick, lacking Spirit-led leadership, for the most part.

In these two years I learned that ...

1. The church, as we know it, is man-made. Basically created to fit our needs. We are more interested in meeting our needs than loving and serving .

2. The church is a business. When there are staff members who make salaries comparable to CEOs of major business organizations, one must question the true calling of those in leadership.

3. Positions within are too often given to those who "play church" and not necessarily ones who truly want to serve.

4. The church empowers self-righteous, finger pointing. Instead of truly loving people, the nature of the church today is to judge and condemn.

Here is an excerpt from the book The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David F. Wells.

In my view, so much of this rethinking confuses rethinking the nature of the church with rethinking its performance. For the multitude of pragmatists who are leading churches in America today, these are one and the same thing. The church is nothing but its performance. There is nothing to be said about the church that cannot be reduced to how it is doing, and that is a matter for constant inventories, poll taking, daily calculations, and strategizing. I beg to differ. These are two entirely different matters. We intrude into what is not our business when, in our earnest pursuit of success in the church, which we think we can manufacture, we confuse its performance with its nature. Let me explain. The church is not our creation. It is not our business. We are not called upon to manage it. It is not there for us to advance our careers in it. It is not there for our own success. It is not a business. The church, in fact, was never our idea in the first place. No, it is not the church we need to rethink. Rather it is our thoughts about the church that need to be rethought. It is the church’s faithfulness that needs to be reexamined. It is its faithfulness to who it is in Christ, its faithfulness in living out its life in the world, that should be occupying us. The church, after all, is not under our management but under God’s sovereign care, and what he sees as health is very often rather different from what we imagine its health to be. The church, let us remember, is called the “church of God” (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9). Churches are “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16.16) because they are his, bought by his precious blood. Christ not only constituted the church (Math. 16:18), but God has given us the blueprint of its life in Scripture. What we need to do, then, first and foremost, is to replicates his thoughts about it. We need to ask ourselves how well, or how badly, we are realizing our life in Christ in the church, how far and how well churches stand out as the outposts of the kingdom of God in our particular culture. —David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Eerdmans, 2008), 222–223.
So, there it is. That's where I am on this journey. Time to rest and fill up. Tomorrow the road trip continues.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On the Outside

All these people were still living by faith when they died.
They did not receive the things promised;
they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13
I remember moving from a small town in southern Georgia to Atlanta a month before I started seventh grade. My parents might as well have moved me to another continent. The culture shock, even back then (the mid-1970s), blew my mind and shattered my already lacking self-confidence. Atlanta was far ahead of south Georgia in many ways. I was enrolled in an affluent neighborhood school with middle to upper class students. My family was not poor, but we had no excess, just the basics ... especially compared to my peers. It was tough. To join in. To be a part of. And no matter how I tried to fit in, and who I tried to fit in with, I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Sadly, I struggled with that until recently. No kidding.
And just how many years of bondage is that?
It wasn't until I finally realized that I really am on the outside. I really don't fit in here. This foreign land. But one day. One day I will. Because of nothing I have done or will do. But because of what has already been done. His precious blood poured out on my behalf. Some day!
“At present we are on the outside of the world,
the wrong side of the door.
We discern the freshness and purity of the morning,
but they do not make us fresh and pure.
We cannot mingle with the splendours we see.
But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling
with the rumor that it will not always be so.
Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Thankful still....

424. Brunswick stew and warm bread

425. Laughter

426. Heating pad for aching muscles

427. Good memories of the weekend

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Who is blind? He who can see no other world. Who is dumb? He who can say nothing pleasant about his lot. Who is poor? He who is troubled with too many desires. Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.
- Indian Proverb
It was a rare event for my husband and I. We drove an hour last night to have dinner together and to see a movie. With our three children in the process of leaving the nest we are finding time just for us again after twenty-plus years. It's bittersweet. Bitter, because I miss the mothering role terribly, even though I know it's a natural let go of them. Yet, in this letting loose I am finding sweetness too. Time to give undivided attention to eachother. Going to the restaurant we want to go to. Talking about things we want to talk about. Remembering what attracted us to eachother in the first place.
I don't have a perfect marriage. I don't have perfect kids. This is not a perfect world. But it is my lot. I praise the Lord my God. Blessed be His name above all others.
I am happy and blessed. Especially when I get a text from each of my children in the middle of my date!
Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. Nehemiah 9:5

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Girls relay going to STATE
Gabrielsen Natatorium

Athens, Georgia

1 Corinthians 12:12 says Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (NIV)In this verse we see that spiritual gifts are intended for one purpose...the advancement of the kingdom of God, the church, the body of Christ. Each of us is gifted uniquely for the benefit of the whole body. Christianity is not a solo event! We must work together if we are to win the prize!

Four girls from a small town competed in two different relays at a swim meet at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Georgia today and qualified for state ... in both events.
A little background -The relay was considered handicapped since Erica, one of the stronger swimmers was unable to compete today due to the death of her father and sister in a car accident. The other girls were grieving with Erica and anxious about having to swim without her. Erica had to be replaced by a less experienced swimmer on both relay teams.
Note that in all this, with the odds stacked against them, the girls decided before they got to Athens that no matter the outcome, they would do their best -and do it for Erica.
And now they are going to state! The first female relay team from their high school to ever make it to state! These girls qualified in the 200 Free Relay with a time of 1:53.25 and they also qualified in the 400 Yard Free Relay 4:12.58.
As a mom of one of the girls on the relay team I am so proud of their achievement! But I am even more proud of the unity they displayed. They could not have achieved this without full cooperation from each girl. Each one giving her individual best to achieve the goal. For one purpose - Erica.

I love you girls! Congratulations!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A prayer for our nation ...

I heard this prayer given by Rick Warren today and was quite moved by it.
Thought I'd share...

Almighty God, our Father:
Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.
It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.
History is your story.
The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States.
We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new president, Barack Obama,
the wisdom to lead us with humility,
the courage to lead us with integrity,
the compassion to lead us with generosity.Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans--united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you--forgive us.
When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone--forgive us.
When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve--forgive us.
And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all.
May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.
And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.
We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus—who taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Today our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day. Schools, banks, and post offices are closed on this national holiday. I have heard MLK's speeches on documentaries before, but this morning I decided to read MLK's famous speech, 'I Have A Dream,' which he delivered on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. It is powerful!
I wasn't quite two years old at the time the speech was delivered. Strange, the only time I ever remember seeing an African-American as a child was when we visited my grandparents' farm and I didn't even go to school with any one of a different color until I reached high school and college.
My children are shocked when I tell them that. And frankly, I am shocked, too.
As an adult, though, I have many dear friends of many different races ... a word I really dislike.
I had some time to think about the term "race" and discussed it recently with an intelligent young man.
We both agreed that skin comes in an infinite array of colors. It is just our human tendency to simplify and organize that groups skin tones into white, black, brown, and so on. However, there is nothing about skin tone that makes people similar or different, besides the skin tone itself. That is why race is not a person’s skin color. Another word we discussed was the word racism. By definition, racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another.
Being born and raised in the south, I am aware of the racism that still exists even after this speech was given forty something years ago. How do we, as a people get beyond this? It rears its ugly head unexpectedly and even purposely at times. I wonder if we ever will really look at a person's character instead of the color of his/her skin. Wouldn't it be interesting if we were all stricken with color-blindness. Until then, like Martin Luther King and so many others I, too have a dream. A dream that we will find that freedom in Christ.
Yes, because Christ Jesus is the only one who can set us free and deliver us from ourselves.
"...And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (Martin Luther King)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lord, give us this day our daily bread...

...and forgive me for buying it at the store!

I love bread of any kind. I am especially fond of sourdough bread and in my opinion, the best way to eat bread is slightly warmed - not toasted. And with butter - not margarine.
I came across a website at which sparked my interest and desire to try my hand at baking my own homemade bread. I scanned over the seemingly simple directions, purchased whole wheat flour and the packets of yeast, and after four hours of mixing, kneading, rising, punching, rolling, and baking it has been confirmed that I was born in the correct century.
Bread making is for women that have totally different DNA than I do. It is work like I have never experienced. I even had to have help from my son on the kneading part!That is a difficult, but necessary step in the bread making process. Kneading stretches the dough and develops the gluten, the springy stuff that gives bread its texture. Folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands. Exhausting, but so important. This tedious, back-breaking process of bread-making reminds me of how our heavenly Father takes the circumstances of life and develops us slowly, patiently into who He wants us to be. Giving us life full, free, and satisfying.
"For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread that came down from heaven… But here is the bread that comes down from heaven…I am the living bread that comes down from heaven… The one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven." -John 6:33, 41, 50-51, 57-58

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gratitude List continues ...

When you are grateful

fear disappears

and abundance appears.

Anthony Robbins

421. hot chocolate

422. a day with husband

423. a phone call from daughter visiting D. C.
"We have this hope as
an anchor for the soul,
firm and secure..."
Hebrews 6:19
Hope is one of the three theological virtues in Christian tradition. Hope being a combination of the desire for something and expectation of receiving it, the virtue is hoping for Divine union and so eternal happiness. Like all virtues, it arises from the will, not the passions.
Hope is opposed to the sins of despair and presumption; refraining from them is adhering to the negative precept of hope. The positive precept is required when exercising some duties, as in prayer or penance.
In the Christian tradition, hope in Christ and faith in Christ are closely linked, with hope having a connotation that means the one with hope has a firm assurance, through the witness of the Holy Spirit, that Christ has promised a better world to those who are His. Hope can thus sustain one through trials of faith, human tragedies or difficulties that may otherwise seem overwhelming. Hope is seen as "an anchor of the soul" as referenced in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the New Testament. Hebrews 7:19 also describes the "better hope" of the New Covenant in Christ rather than the old covenant of the Jewish law.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Winter in the South

frozen blueberry blossoms
photo taken by Guy

Friday, January 9, 2009

Taking the Good I Find

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful,
take the good I find,
The best of now and here.
-John Greenleaf Whittier

413. a juicy tangerine

414. winter evenings with everyone home

415. laughter in the kitchen

416. homemade meals

417. walking daily

418. hugs from four-year olds

419. feeding Malli carrots

420. cold water to drink

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's been a week now that I resolved to give in and give up to my Lord. (again)
I am putting my hope and my trust in Him alone. (again)
I can't do it alone, I confess. (again)
I admit I am lost without Him, my Shepherd.
Even when my heart is "right" I fail though. I trip up. And I wonder if He still loves me.
I wonder if He will just cast me aside this time and give up on me.
I am weak.
Will He welcome me still?
Will He look for me, search me out when I wander?
The answer is YES! He never gives up one me.
What blessed assurance. What peace I find in that today.
I praise You, Lord for you are my Salvation.

“There shall be more wonder at the going to heaven of the weak believers than at the stronger ones. Mr. Greatheart, when he comes there, will owe his victories to his Master and lay his laurels at his feet; but fainting Feeblemind and limping Ready-to-Halt with his crutches, and trembling Little-Faith—when they enter into rest, will make heaven ring with notes of even greater admiration that such poor creeping worms of the earth should win the day by mighty grace.
Suppose that one of them should be missing at the last? Stop the harps! Silence the songs! No beginning to be merry while one child is shut out! I am quite certain if, as a family, we were going to sing our evening hymn of joy and thankfulness, if mother said, ‘Where is the little mite? Where is the last one of the family?’ there would be a pause. If we had to say, ‘She is lost,’ there would be no singing and no resting till she was found.
It is the glory of Jesus that as a shepherd he has lost none of His flock, as the Captain of salvation, he has brought many sons to glory and has lost none.”

—Charles Spurgeon,
“Jesus Admired in Them That Believe”

Friday, January 2, 2009


Be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the LORD.
Psalm 31:24

According to my dictionary, resolution means the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. Many a resolutions are made and broken each year. All with good intentions.
Every year I make at least one resolution. Usually it is one that involves a commitment to lose weight, exercise daily, trim and tone this forty-something body, etc. You get the point.
Being temporarily sane, I have decided to forgo making any grandiose resolutions this year. That's right. Call it learning from my mistakes, or just being realistic, but I have come to grips with my condition. I am hopeless. I have the willpower of a starved great white shark when it comes to resisting sweets and I can create any excuse not to to exercise. And anyway my history reveals that by February 1st I have usually fallen off the wagon. So what to do?
Do I give in and give up? Yes. I give in and give up my desires to my Lord. I am putting my hope and my trust in Him alone. He is the One who died for all my sins. He knows my shortcomings, my weaknesses. The only way to change, to get better is to realize that If I am a believer then "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
I will fail him, fall short but He won't give up on me because He promised to complete the good work he began in me (Philippians 1:.6). As I yield to Him, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in my life.(Galatians 5:22)
So I resolve, I will put my hope in Him, and not myself...or those devilish miniature Butterfingers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

All Things New

“There are children of God who need this text, ‘Behold, I make all things new,’ whose sigh is that they so soon grow dull and weary in the ways of God, and therefore they need daily renewing. After a few months a vigorous young Christian will begin to cool down; and those who have been long in the ways of God find that final perseverance must be a miracle if ever it is to be accomplished, for naturally they tire and faint.
Well, now, dear friends, why do you and I ever get stale and flat? Why, it is because we get away from him who says, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ The straight way to a perpetual newness and freshness of holy youth is to go to Christ again, just as we did at the first. A better thing still is never to leave him, but to stand for ever at the cross-foot delighting yourself in his all-sufficient sacrifice.
They that are full of the joy of the Lord never find life grow weary. Getting near to Christ, you will partake in his joy, and that joy shall be your strength, your freshness, the newness of your life. God grant us to drink of the eternal founts, that we may for ever overflow.”
—Charles Spurgeon, “Sermon for New Year’s Day”