Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Acceptance and Approval

All my life I've wanted to be "special".

(No, not that way.)

I remember going through flip book after flip book with the special education teacher back in the first grade. And I tried so hard to get them all right. I wanting nothing more than to be set apart. I wanted her to choose me as one of the kids who left the regular classroom for a while, to go to this mysterious place where more magical flip books I could conquer. I wanted to be part of that group. I never was. Of course, now I realize what it all meant and I'm glad I wasn't part of that group.

During Kindergarten nap time I would lie frozen, desperate to be chosen by the teacher to get to wake everyone up. We got to use a wand (it was sparkly with a star on top) and as you were nudged with the wand, it was your permission to wake up and the signal that nap time was over.

My mom first put me in front the church to sing at the age of four, if memory serves. I might have been five. After that, the music committee at church continued to ask and I continued to say "Yes, I'll do special music next Sunday." I loved picking out songs, practicing until my brothers would be so sick of me, and I loved getting those little notes on encouragement from church members about how good I sounded. It made me feel good.

In high school, being different was usually considered a detriment. I didn't care. I did what I wanted to do, but I still longed for acceptance. I just wanted everyone to accept me on my terms. They didn't. It probably bothered me more that I was willing to admit. But as an adult, I could care less about how things were back then.

And as an adult, I'm realizing I still want to be singled out as "special". A while back I was called into a staff meeting. As I walked in, I was greeted to a standing ovation. (I hadn't received on of those since I was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the local community theatre.) It certainly was weird to receive one in a conference room. However, I was proud of the catalog I finished that week and they liked it too, apparently. So it was nice to be recognized for that.

Do we ever grow out of our need for acceptance?

Dear God, I hope we do.

The Heart of Worship Song Set

How great is this?

Below is the copy of an email I got last night from the radio host of the nationally syndicated show The Heart of Worship. I listen to the show as religiously as I do my NPR every morning as I do my hair and makeup. The show is on Sunday mornings and times perfectly with getting up, ready and my 40 minute drive to church. It's often where I discover new songs to start including in our services.

One of the features of the show is they allow listeners to create a worship set of songs - and if they like your set, they will play the set during the show and you get a free CD you can choose off their list. Free CD! Woo hoo!

(I would feel a bit of a failure as a worship leader if I couldn't create a good set, huh?)



--- The Heart of Worship < @theheartofworship.org> wrote:

Hi Stephanie,
Your worship set has been chosen to be featured on "The Heart of Worship". You can hear these songs this weekend. I'll get the CD out to you this week.

Congratulations!

Don Buettner
Host, The Heart of Worship

From: Stephanie [mailto: @yahoo.om]
Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2007 4:12 PM
To: @theheartofworship.org
Subject: Create Your Own Worship Set

song1 Everlasting God - Lincoln Brewster
song2 Because of Your Love - Paul Baloche
song3 All the Earth - Parachute Band
song4 Above All - Michael W. Smith
station 95.7 The Bridge FM

Monday, January 29, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Censoring at it's Best



Kansas Bob alerted us to this recent event regarding the movie The Queen.

All mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film distributed to Delta and some other airlines.

Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the Studio City, Calif., company that supplied the movie to the airlines earlier this month, said it was a mistake, committed by an overzealous and inexperienced employee who had been told to edit out all profanities and blasphemies.


The dichotomy in this is amazing. An intern exercising freedom of religion by using censorship? (Of course, this is based on a speculation of the intern's motive, not on a known fact...) It's not like this kind of censorship's never occurred before, but it's usually by extreme conservatives on a banned book brigade, ready to torch the pile and fine the networks.

Maybe it's just the thought that someone would consider the word "god" blasphemous. It makes me chuckle.

I'm about to be struck down now. I can feel it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow





I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

-Galatians 2: 20-21

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ego Stroking



Musicians. *rolls eyes* *shakes head*

Oy.

As a worship director, I have the sometimes daunting task of dealing with... well, "different" personalities. As my mother repeated to me over and over as a child "Music people are funny." Not funny ha-ha. Funny weird.

I know I should be insulted, but she's right. We're weird.

I work with about 22 different musicians on a regular basis, with around five-six substitutes that pinch-hit when needed. I have two regulars on keys, and one of them? Seem to live to make my life harder.

Last fall she was approached by two neighboring churches desperate for an organist. She doesn't get much organ time at our church anymore, so she ask me if she could schedule herself twice a month to play at the other churches. I had some reservations, but after talking to the Senior Pastor, we agreed to change our usual schedule around so she could do this. I had to do some switching of team members (if I tried to explain why, if would get entirely too complicated). After spending a lot of time rearranging things I just couldn't make things work right, so I got rid of one team (at the time we had five) and put the members on other teams. This left us at four teams.

Then I had two young women approach me about being part of the worship ministry, so I needed to sit down and do some rearranging again. With four already very full teams., I tried combination after combination based on vocal ability, tone matching, as well as considering complimenting personalities. What worked the best was to make the teams smaller and create six total teams. Four of these team have vocalists who prefer leading contemporary-style worship. The other two team have vocalists that only want to lead a blended style. The keyboardist that plays organ at the other congregations plays on our two blended worship style teams.

In doing the schedule for the new year, I kept her schedule the same. She still plays two Sundays a month at our church, then plays elsewhere the other weeks. She got the new schedule, saw there were now six teams and she was only on two, she spoke to the other keyboardist and complained. Without glancing at the schedule to see that she was still playing twice a month, she assumed she would be getting "less playing time" than the other regular keyboardist. But all that happened was more vocalists, not instrumentalists, were leading fewer times (instead of once a month, it's now every six weeks.) Is your head spinning yet? Yes, this is what my job at church is like.

I refuse to stroke her ego. I don't have to do this for any other team member; they are happy to serve and love glorifying God with music. Not once have I had to tell anyone to leave their ego at the door. Sometimes personalities clash, but it's rare. We work through it and move on. It's viewed as a service, not an ego trip.

When you begin to view your service to the church about getting "equal playing time" maybe it's time you sit on the bench.

Oy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Peaks and Valleys

Sometimes it sucks being a girl.

I'm sad tonight, and I have no idea why. I feel as though at any moment I could burst into tears. Far as I can tell, there is absolutely no reason for it. So in my head, I shart checking off a list:

Is it because a good friend told me last night she's moving back to the east coast?
Is it because I'm frustrated with a situation at work?
Is it because my favorite sweater is almost too worn to wear?
Is it because I feel stuck in one place in my relationship with God?
Is it because I gave up soda?
Is it because I listened to Over the Rhine's Drunkard's Prayer album all day?
Is it because when I was sorting my groceries on the conveyor belt tonight I was reminded of a friend (who taught me to do that) whom I no longer talk to?
Is it because a job I was once passed over for is now available and I'm too afraid to try again?
Is it because I doubt that he is suffcient for me and that makes me feel guilty?

Is it because I've realize I simply don't know who God is at all?

Check. Check. Check.

After all the wondering, I still don't know. Tomorrow may be a peak. Today was a valley. Today was a day of loose ends and questions... a day I felt undone. But I guess the thing about being undone is that I have no choice but to be put back together.


Bless the days this restoration is complete
Dirty, dusty, something must be underneath
So I scrape and I scuff
Though it's never quite enough
I am starting to see me finally

A gallery of paintings new and paintings old
Guess its no suprise that I;m no michaelangelo
Every layer of mine
Hides a lovely design
It might take a little patience
It might take a little time

But you called me beautiful
When you saw my shame
And you placed me on the wall
Anyway

You who have begun this work will someday see
A portrait of the holiness you meant for me
So I polish and shine till its easier to find
Even an outline of mine

But you called me beautiful
When you saw my shame
And you placed me on the wall
Anyway
-Anyway (Nichole Nordeman)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Some Things that Bug

What is it about the blogging community that can simultaneously bring out my self-esteem issues and my rage at the same time?


There is the self-righteous blog, too good for anyone with a differing opinion.

There is the high-horse blog, that if you disagree, they won't post your comment (or delete it), despite the absence of interesting discussion.

There is the weirdly absent blogger, who posts thought-provoking articles, only to never show up again and let the rest of us opine without him/her.

There is the uneducated blog that thinks it's smart and only succeeds in looking ignorant, stupid and hickish.

There is the "I'm too smart for my own good" blog where the author clearly tries too hard by forming sentences that while sound smart, manage to say nothing at all.


Having posts rejected, affirmed, deleted or spur one another on creates a push-pull on our egos. Sometimes we respond to annoy the author, sometimes we respond to gain the author's respect, and in both those cases we can loose who we are, all simply to get someone's attention. And when we fail, our fluffed up feathers deflate sadly and we retreat into blog obscurity, only to comment on blogs that no one reads in effort to lick our wounds.

All in all, my least favorite blog is the kind lead by an intellectual piss-ant who refuses to ackowledge anyone at all. If you don't want people to read or comment, why are you in the blogosphere in the first place? Self-importance? Welcome to the club. That's why we're all here.

Be who you are. Don't pretend. Acknowledge one another with grace and love. And remember that we are all children of God. Piss-ant or not.

/rant over.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Weight of Sin

Last Monday I had a heavy, heavy heart going into my small group.

It's one I've been part of two years. The leaders are people I trust. The other there are those I love. It's hard to ignore your sin in front of people who mean so much. And while we spent the two hours talking about the study, I kept thinking about this one particular sin. How awful and dirty it made me feel. And how hypocritical of me to talk to those who help keep me accountable as if nothing was wrong! I felt chains wrapped around my heart and my mind.

This heavy heart is one common thread among all my most personal sins - the deep down dirty rotten ones. These are the sins that peal away at your defenses, leaving open wounds just begging for another attack. These are the sins that seem to stay with you forever, and sometimes often the easiest to ignore because they aren't outward. These sins aren't in the limelight; they are hidden in the dark recesses of our souls.

So after our study, I asked for prayer to be released from this sin that's weighed me down for years. And seriously, this sin has followed me for years. And as our leader prayed, she said something that stayed with me, "May the taste of this sin be so bitter she will never want to taste it again."

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. - Psalm 34: 8

The archaic definition of the word "taste" is to appreciate or enjoy. I don't take time each day to appreciate and enjoy God's goodness. I simply take it for granted because his goodness never fails to be just that: good. I am thankful for this goodness, for it exposes my wickedness. And this same goodness frees me from my wickedness. But I feel as though my entrapment to this sin means I don't see God as good. If God is good, why isn't he taking this desire to sin away from me? I know I shouldn't doubt God' goodness. But it's there. I believe I've failed to really taste and see not just his goodness, but who he really is in the first place. Perhaps if I had a clearer view of God, perhaps if I remembered it's not about my goodness in the first place, than perhaps this weight on my heart would lift and I could truly, with Christ' help, conquer my sin.

I've taken refuge. I just have to do the rest.


...I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood...

... I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle
I’m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you ....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

i repent


i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america's dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we're safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repent


i repent, i repent of parading my liberty
i repent, i repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way i believe that i am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
i am wrong and of these things i repent


i repent judging by a law that even i can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes


i repent, i repent of trading truth for false unity
i repent, i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what i know of what we need
by domesticating you until you look just like me
i am wrong and of these things i repent

-
from Derek Webb's album "i see things upside down"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Top Ten Myths About Christians - Part 2

Read Myths 10-6 here.

Myth #5 You have to go to church to be a Christian.

How does the old saying go? "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car." So what does make a person a Christian?

Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin. But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:20-24 (The Message)

I know plenty of people who go to church who aren't Christians. They go to look good to the community or to make their wives or husbands happy; they go because they are expected to, or because their parents took them to Sunday School and thing their kids should go also... The list could go on for a while. But if being a Christian depended on our outward actions, we could never live up. First and foremost, God is interested in our hearts. Do we believe Jesus died for our sin? Do we trust him with our life and look to live according to his will?

There are many good reasons to go to church. Some even better ones to go to the same church each week. But these reasons our not for God's benefit; they are for ours. For fellowship with other believers and for the benefit of the community the church serves. To reach out to those who are hurting, to restore those who are broken, to love those who feel unworthy.


Myth #4 Christians are judgemental and believe they are better then everyone else.

Yes, we are judgmental. No, we are not better than everyone else. And when we are judgmental, we accomplish nothing but frustration. God must be up there in heaven laughing his butt off when one of us crazy Christians cries "fowl" at another's sin and then watches the pride in our hearts grow and grow. Many of us are judgmental and believe that we are better than everyone else. But we are wrong. That's a sin of which we need to repent.

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6: 1-3 (The Message)

And straight form the horse's (Jesus) mouth:
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." Luke 6: 37-38 (The Message)



Myth #3 Christians aren’t allowed to think for themselves.

I've had plenty of people accuse me of this. If you are reading this post and are not a believer, read some of my other posts. Trust me, I think for myself. And I think a lot. Then I write about here. Ad nauseum.

I'm not entirely sure why so many non-Christians think this about us. Is it because God is seen as "all-controlling" and we're just puppets? If so, that view of God is incorrect. He gave us a free will so we can question and choose. He wants us to think for ourselves. God doesn't want us to HAVE to love him and HAVE to obey him. What kind of life would that be? What kind of relationship would that be? Not a good one, if one at all.

'I'm sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I'm sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.' Acts 26: 17-18 (The Message)



Myth #2 Christians think they're perfect and that they never sin.

For a while there was a really popular bumper sticker that said "Christian aren't perfect, just forgiven." We like to act perfect sometimes. We get on our high horse and point fingers at the sinners of the world. But we aren't allowed to do that; it kinda pisses God off when we do. There is not one single person in the world without sin, and judging each other accomplishes nothing. In fact, all it does is make me mad. There is a need for accountability, there is a need for repentance. I get that. Contrary to popular opinion - i.e. this myth - Christians are not out to get non-Christians (even though many act like it. But they shouldn't.). All we really [should] want is for everyone to feel the freedom we feel. The freedom of knowing you're forgiven and loved no matter what.

This new plan I'm making with Israel
isn't going to be written on paper,
isn't going to be chiseled in stone;
This time "I'm writing out the plan in them,
carving it on the lining of their hearts."
He concludes,
I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.
Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body.

So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Romans 10: 16-25 (The Message)

Myth #1 Christian believe that if they don't do good God will punish them.

Here's the tough thing about myth #1. I deserve punishment. We all do. That's hard for some people to accept, because all we are taught "Be a good person and you'll be okay." Anyone who's a good person and had faced hardship knows differently. Anyone who's watched a "bad" person succeed also knows differently. For evil to exist, there must be good. For right to exist, there must be wrong. These must be justice to keep order in the world. So for years and years we sacrificed alters and burnt offerings to God in order to please him. But God is perfect, so how could we ever reach him? We couldn't. That's why he sent his son. That's why Jesus died. He took my place and your place and everyone's place. He took my punishment. God loves us so much that he would rather die than spend eternity without us. God still carried out his justice and he chooses to accept his own son's death as payment for my sin. It breaks my heart every day.

Because the bond required for my pardon has been fulfilled [the first person to recall the song this line comes from and the artist who wrote it will get a surprise gift from me] my life is joyful. I choose to glorify God and enjoy him forever. (Someone else has always said it better, even if they are Presbyterians.) There is no punishment for me. "My sin, (not in part, but the whole) is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more."

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4: 17-18 (The Message)

I know my efforts to dispel these myths have fallen short. If you've taken nothing from my two posts on this, that's okay. That's simply my failure to communicate well. I am still thankful I did it, because if nothing else it turned into a time of worship and praise for me to marvel at all he's done for me.

So I end this post with the God's word, which communicates better than I ever will. I leave you with the very heart of the Christian message:

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2: 1-9 (The Message)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Top 10 Myths About Christians - Part 1

The inspiration for this post came from the link attached to the title of this post. I enjoy reading churchhop.blogspot.com each week. It's a chronicle of a brother and sister attending different churches each week and sharing their experiences. Although I'm not sure about Brandon, Erica considers herself an agnostic and a while back posted a thought-provoking question and a link to an article entitled "10 Myths About Atheism". So I was inspired, and here I am in my feeble attempt to dispel some myths about Christians in what I hope is a relevant, humble and honest way. I am not a scholar; I am just a searcher who is passionately devoted to Christ.


Sidebar: I have intentionally kept this list about Christians. Myths about Christianity would be significantly different in my opinion.


Myth #10 Christians are not allowed to enjoy themselves.

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10: 6-10 (The Message)

They are many Christian who believe their suffering will make them more "holy" and as a result, be more pleasing in God's eyes. The gospel message simply does not endorse this. God wants us to prosper, but beyond that, he knows better than us. And because he does, it behooves us to listen to his voice. After all, you wouldn't ask someone who'd never made baklava before to teach you how, right?


Myth #9 It's easy to be a Christian.

Because I have been a Christian my entire life (despite many periods of doubt) I do not know the degree of difficulty or ease non-Christians live with. We are all human, and I would imagine we all live our lives with some amount of stress and hardship as well as joy and peace. While I would consider my life "easy" compared to most people, being a child of God isn't what make it easy. What it does mean is a life free from the bondage of sin. I still struggle everyday with doubt, sorrow, regret, sadness, and I beat myself up over my mistakes. And because the word "easy" is subjective there is no solid way I can address this myth, except to say that a belief in Christ and a life given over to him does not make us exempt from the hardships of the world.

You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message)


Myth #8 Christians are constantly wracked with guilt.

At the very heart of the gospel is this one little word that packs a huge punch. Grace. This grace is given without cost, but didn't come cheap. My sin is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. That does make me feel guilty, because it's not fair that someone else paid the price for my mistakes. But more than anything, this gift of grace makes me grateful. And at the heart of that gratefulness is a need to express my thanks and live outwardly to my community, my family, my church, and all that God's created. To appreciate and love others, and to sacrifice my own stupid selfishness for so that Christ may somehow been seen through me. My "good works" don't cancel-out my guilt, they are a thank you for the grace I get every day I simply don't deserve.

As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:20-22 (The Message)


Myth #7 Christians live by a set of rules that no longer apply to today's life.

I don't feel as though I can even skim the basics of this huge issue. It's a tough one, and a very valid issue for everyone, follower of Christ or not, to examine. But here's the rub: right and wrong have always existed and the search for something greater than us has as well. These things continue today because they matter. We face many of the same issues that were faced thousands of years ago. We're still human, and our hearts still remain at war with our minds.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples. I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love. John 15: 4-10 (The Message)


Myth #6 Christians don't question God.

I'm not sure what kind of person I would be if I didn't ask God "Why?" on a regular basis. One to roll over, one that is blind or too lazy, perhaps? I don't know that anyone understands God, and he thinks no less of us when we wonder if he really knows what he's doing. Personally, I would never believe in anything that didn't let me question it. It is one of life's great gifts.

I will finish the remainder of the top ten in another post. For now, I will leave you with this: I am not a normal Christian. I know this. Whether that's good or bad is subjective. What I have had is a real and amazing journey thus far with Christ. He's led me places I never though I'd go and I'm a better person for it. As hard as the journey is sometimes, I've always had this promise:

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)

Part 2 - Myths 1-5

The Storm

I haven't said anything about the major ice storm that hit our area (the second one) New Year's weekend. There are still several people without power that I know of, and they are being told up it could still be two more weeks. I took these photos last Thursday, after the ice had melted in 40-50 degree weather for three days.


Some bushes coated with ice.




One of the many tree limbs in my front yard that cracked under the weight of the ice





A randon piece of ice that fell off a tree limb. (Remember this is after melting in 40-50 degree weather for three days.)



A tree split in three parts. It's kind of amazing


These links show a lot more because they were taken on a sunny day. They really give you a taste of how bad it was here.

Why I Was Without Power Last Saturday and Sunday

Ice Coating a Fence

Ice Coating on Wire

A Shocking Amount of Ice

Fallen Power Lines

Good Old Highway 34

Several More Freaky Pictures Here

Enjoy the beautiful destruction of ice...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Silence

Do they make heavenly earplugs to drown out the world? 'Cause I could use some.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Scranton Party



Yes, I'm on a YouTube kick. This is a shout-out to my dear friend Steph who sent me this video after I gave her this T-Shirt for Christmas.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Post I've Been Avoiding

I've been avoiding this entry for a long time. But I've decided to finally face the music, suck it up and just type.


Do I want to be a pastor?

I've been asked that a lot in the last several months. Since I was in high school I've had a few church members tell me they think I should be, so sure, it's always been in the back of my mind. But just because a few people told me that years ago? And a few people are telling me today? Does that really mean anything? I don't know. But as I continue to dialogue with those closest to me, I am being pushed further and further and deeper into the meaning of this question - the meaning of this calling.


Do I want to be a pastor?


Since those few church members mentioned the possibility to me all those years ago, my gut reaction was always "no". And as I'm being asked the question more recently, my gut reaction is kicking in and I am once again saying "no". I've put this post off because for several weeks now (if you must know, I actually started to type all of the above on December 7th, but never mind that).


I finally asked myself why "no" was always my answer. And I didn't like it. But that answer is for another post... for right now I want to pose this: I'm afraid that God's desire for my future is something I'm not ready for. But here the kicker: who is ever ready?


Yikes. Sorry about all the bad grammar in the above paragraphs.


But more than not feeling ready, I know I will never feel good enough. Then I read this. Then I read this.


Several months I posted this. But I'm still no closer to being sure I've heard God in the right way.


I know there aren't very many of of your who read this blog, but for those of you who do and are in the ministry, would you mind posting your story of how God called you? Because right now, all I have in my head is Spurgeon:

"
If you can do anything else do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry."

Oh, Please

Pat Robertson's Big Mouth


Say it with me, ya'll.

Shut it, Pat.

Monday, January 01, 2007