When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Friday, July 31, 2009

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Oh yes! A friend today had the scripture posted: Taste and see that the LORD is good." (Psalm 34:8 ) Nothing could be truer.

We can never imagine the goodness of God until we have tasted of His fullness! Until we have experienced His blessings and care and constant presence there are no words that can make it real. But once we have tasted, there is nothing else that will satisfy the heart hunger in our human being.


I was studying this morning on sanctification. I have a number of friends who are of the “sin-we-will, sin-we-must, sin-we-can’t help-ourselves” doctrine and I’ve wondered a lot of times exactly why this is so deeply ingrained in them. This morning I understood. There is no teaching of sanctification in their church! They have no concept of the power and plane of holiness that the Lord wants them to have!

I know I’m slow sometimes but why in the world has this never dawned on me before? It seems I should have understood it many years ago. I’ve talked so many times with these friends—people who love the Lord and sincerely want to live for him. Yet they are beset with sins. Not the “huge awful” ones (if I can use the comparisons) but those ‘little’ ones. Satan is not so foolish as to try and get them to commit adultery or steal someone’s money or lie on their income tax. No, he uses the “little” ones-- the minor spitefulness that makes us short with our companions, the temper that makes us treat our children unfairly, and the day to day irritations that make us snotty and short to co-workers and customers or clients. Those are the daily sins that they believe they cannot over come and that so bind them into the idea of daily sinning because there is no help for it.

I’ve tried to explain many times why those daily sins aren’t necessary that they can have victory over them. I might as well have been speaking a foreign language. In spite of their trying to take it in they simply couldn’t. In spite of many times their wanting to live better lives, the concept just is beyond their grasp. And then this morning it became clear to me WHY they could never understand it. They had no concept of sanctification in their lives!.

There has been a huge amount of discussion ( dare I even say arguing and temper) around the church of God as to exactly what ‘sanctification’ involves. Some teach ‘two definite works of Grace’ that must be accomplished in each saint for salvation to be complete.. Others say it is not so much the work of God as it is the work of the individual in their own setting self apart for the Lord. Others say yest it is that ‘setting apart’ but then there is God’s acceptance of that dedication. I have even been accused not believing in holiness. One dear friend cut off communication with me completely when I only tried to discuss it. But laying all of those discussions aside,
there is a state of sanctification that must exist in the life of a child of God.

Sanctification is the dedication of our entire life, purpose and being to the Lord; we must be willing to give up our way entirely and allow the Lord to take full control.. And that is sometimes hard to do for some people. It’s a struggle to give up our own way, our own wants and needs, our ties to parents, houses, land to devote our whole being to the use of the Lord. But if we are to have complete victory over ‘sin, self and the Devil’ (as the old preachers used to say) we must set our self apart to God’s Use, exclusively. Once we are able to deny our self, God accepts that dedication and we become His with His indwelling power to give us that victory we so desperately need if we are to over come. Call it and describe it as you may, it is necessary for victory in the Life for Christ.

When I talk to these friends who are so bound in daily sin, I’ve found out they have no perception of sanctification. It has never been taught in its depth, but only as a general state that the Lord supernaturally confers on those who are born again. And because they have never fought the battle defeating their own desires and human flesh, placing themselves under God’s complete control, taking their hands off their own life entirely, they continue to struggle with the daily sins and in some cases major sins.

Once that battle is fought and won and our self is set apart to God’s use and the sacrifice has been accepted by God, ("present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God," ) we have we have a freedom from many of the daily struggles those friends find so recurrent. Many decisions for our actions were made at that altar of self repudiation and we only do the work of God. The sacrifice of our living self was holy and wholly offered to the Lord and it was an acceptable sacrifice.

Isn’t that glorious! Sometimes the blessings of God just sweep over us afresh and things that we have known and believed and followed for years are endued with bright new wonder. That is the way I feel today.

Monday, July 27, 2009


But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4

“Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you. I want to see you. I want to see you. I want to see you. Holy, holy, holy, holy . Holy, holy, holy, holy.. Holy, holy, holy holy.”

I hope you read that carefully and thought about it. It sounds real good, doesn’t it. All religious and righteous and seeking the right place before God. Right? Now I’m going to challenge you to think because serving God is an intelligent choice and requires a conscious effort to grow in Grace.

I was listening to this in a recording this morning. Most of these worship recordings are good hymns but this one disturbed me on a certain level. The entire song, and it was rather lengthy, consisted of those three phrases. I haven’t come close to reproducing the number of times they were repeated. Each phrase was repeated over and over then phased into the next and then the next, until the repetition became mindless. It is so close to being a mantra that the true child of God should avoid it.

A mantra, in the East Indian religions, is a group of words, sometimes meaningless, that when spoken repeatedly raise the worshipper to an altered state of consciousness ‘creating a spiritual transformation.” They are purported to increase the spiritual insight of the individual but in reality only diminish the worshiper’s mental awareness. The words of a mantra are alleged to produce a vibration that attunes to the unconsciousness of the individual on the deepest levels. It artificially produces a spiritual state.

If you have opportunity to listen many of today’s so called “worship songs” you will find they are in exactly this mold. I heard one brother refer to them as 7/11 songs—the same seven words repeated eleven times! The mystical religions of the eastern countries are becoming more and more widespread as the chains of paganism are loosed in these last days as told in the revelation of John.

Christ was aware of this false spiritual state and warned against it in Matthew 6:7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. The preacher said in Ecclesiastes 1:9: there is no new thing under the sun. And yet as the world has slipped farther and farther from the Lord and true worship, these old forms of pagan worship are creeping in. Even in the services of those who might be called church of God it is being heralded as the product of a new generation of song writers and a fresh new approach to worship as opposed to the out-dated hymns of praise and spiritual songs. And even when an occasional lone voice is in opposition that one is shouted down as being too traditional and critical.

My friend, Salvation is not a religion of mindless devotion to a creed. Its practices are not designed to diminish the worshipper’s mental awareness or raise him to an altered state of consciousness. Our spiritual transformation comes about by a conscious decision to accept the forgiveness God offers through Christ. It continues in our dedication to the study of God’s Word and its application to or daily life. Any spiritual transformation that is achieved is accomplished by the full application of our conscious efforts to become more Christ-like. Our prayers are intelligent verbalization of our thanks to the Father for daily blessings and help; they are earnest petitions for His Mighty Hand to move in our own lives and the lives of others. Our worship is no mindless repetition of single phrases or groups of words, no matter what the content. Our worship is that of praise for specific blessings and help in our life, it is a testimony of the Power and the Might of God as He demonstrates it to us.

If you have been worshipping, raising your hands in response to this mantra–like series of repeated phrases I encourage you to follow Christ’s direction and not to let your communication with Him be that of mindless repetition. Let your praise be specific and focused. Not all of us are blessed to be able to connect beautiful words and music to create a wonderful hymn of praise, but study the words of the old hymns. Check these sites for lyrics:
http://www.geocities.com/chogrefmov/article79.html http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Select_Hymns/

See in them how the writers praise the Lord for salvation from sin and sanctification. Look how they focus on the battles fought and won through God’s grace and strength. As you sing those songs they connect in your heart to the things that the Lord has accomplished for you, and as the music dies away you will be on your feet with a testimony of worship.

When we worship, let’s focus our conscious minds on finding our words of praise, not simply be caught up in repetition and echoes. Jesus told the disciples, the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

filled with grace and glory

This song is singing in my heart this morning. So I'm putting it up here.

What I've Found in Jesus

In the arms of my dear Savior I am resting ev'ry day, And his smiles like sun beams fall on my face; I am standing on his promise, Where I shall forever stay, And my heart is overflowing with his grace.

Once I roamed in sinful darkness, Over mountain, hill and plain, Seeking ev'ry where for rest and finding none; Yes my search for satisfaction While in sin was all in vain, but I've found it in God's well beloved Son.

Long in sin I sought for pleasure, Something that would satisfy, Something that would quench the thirsting of my soul; But I found that sin's dominion, Naught I needed could supply, Then I turned to Jesus and he made me whole. I am dwelling in that Kingdom, Where the day is always bright,

And the sparkling waters of life's rivers gleam, Where the gloomy shades of darkness Are dispelled by heaven's light; And I'm ever drinking of that living stream.

I am filled with grace and glory, And in Jesus I abide; I will tell the wondrous story, Since my soul is satisfied.
(by Otto Bolds)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

about jots and tittles

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven Matthew 5:20

2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.. . . 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21: 1, 27

The idea of jots and tittles has been running through my mind on a regular basis lately. And this morning the Lord connected it with the statement about in no wise entering the kingdom of heaven.

It seems to be a popular misconception that in order to get into heaven we need just ‘do our best’ or be ‘good enough’ It struck me forcibly just a few minutes ago how very particular God is. Jots and tittles are very small markings in the Hebrew alphabet, rather insignificant really, about like a comma or an apostrophe. I can’t read or write Hebrew so I have to relate to the idea in terms of our English language. So that would mean that not one ‘comma’ or ‘apostrophe’ would be ignored in fulfilling the law.

As a third grade teacher I spent a lot of time talking about how and when to use an apostrophe. (The intricacies of commas comes later) The placement of an apostrophe can change the entire meaning of the word. A familiar example is the combination of letters, i-t-s. If we put an apostrophe between the “t” and the “s” the word becomes ‘it’s’ meaning “it is” That is entirely different from writing “its” which means something that ‘it’ possesses.

Consider: “Its rule… ” is an entirely different meaning than “It’s a rule…” Two little marks change the logic completely. The first implies something that is just a common habit of something. For instance, “For this bull, its rule is to turn left” ( What can I say? I’m a bull riding fan.) denotes merely a common practice or self direction. But to say, “It’s a rule to turn left” is completely different. Now it becomes a necessity, a legal requirement. Yet it is based on just a couple tiny marks. So I was thinking along those lines as I considered the idea of jots and tittles.

Then the scripture of in no wise entering the kingdom of heaven came into my mind. I misquoted it to myself at first, but when I looked up the actual verse it said, ‘in no case enter the kingdom.’ Now here is the thought progression. Jesus said that all the law must be fulfilled –every tiny mark and indication. That is being pretty picky. But just a little further down he said that , except [our] righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,[we] shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven Wow. Talk about ‘picky’!

To me this all means that we must be very careful in our lifestyle. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus spoke of the Pharisees tithing mint and anise and cumin—very careful and particular adherence to the old laws of tithing. He didn’t say that was wrong. He just said there were other greater things they should be doing! And here he says we have to exceed that!

We have a long way to go in today’s religious world to teach this message. “Good enough” is not the standard for entering heaven. “Doing our best” won’t buy us an entry. Salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus is the first requirement. ( Luke 13:2-3; Acts 19:4) Next we must put off our sinful ways, and put on the ‘new man’ (Ephesians 20-24; Colossians 3:10) These are the “jots and tittles” of grace. They are the basic requirements. As we live for God we most certainly grow in understanding of the Lord and our godly walk will continue to improve and more habits and ways will be laid aside. Like the Pharisees we used as an example above, we will not only be doing the basic things but we will move on to much more as Christ advised them That’s the only way our righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

Why is this all necessary? Because we are entering into the ‘city of God, adorned as a bride for her husband”. God spent all of the 21st chapter of Revelations describing her to John. He was very particular in every “jot and tittle.” What a glorious church arrayed in beauty and holiness is portrayed! And men today expect to get in by being ‘good enough’ and ‘doing their best.’ even though the stain of sin is on their garments and the attachments of ungodliness drag on their heels! The warning comes at the very end of the chapter: 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth. . . We must be obedient in every jot and tittle. Our lives must be clean and measure to every little word of the Scripture

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On observing the sabbath

I get a very excellent ‘inspiration’ every Sunday morning from a brother dedicated to spreading the word through his business web mail. He has been doing a series on the Ten Commandments that have been very thought provoking. This week was the Fourth Commandment and he brought up some thoughts on whether we are to observe ‘the sabbath’ per se or not, since most of us go to church and worship on Sunday and not technically the ‘seventh day of the week.” I wrote him my thoughts on the subject and then decided that I’d post it here too. So for your consideration, here it is.

Looking at the Sabbath as a particular day does lead us into confusion. However, if we look at the purpose of the Sabbath, things become more lucid. Reading the entire text of Exodus 20 regarding this day, we see that God had a reason for designating the Sabbath: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. In this we see the purpose of the Sabbath indicated. It was to be a day of physical rest commemorating the work of God in His Creation. The Israelites were instructed to ‘keep it holy’ to sanctify it, to use it only for the Lord. To sanctify means to keep something set apart for reasons of sacred use—be it an object, a piece of clothing or a day.
The Israelites were accustomed to specific items being reserved for sacred use—the temple vessels, the fire on the altars, the priests clothing, even specific items of dress for the individual worshippers. Thus one day was to be set apart for sacred use, to worship and dwell on the blessings of God. This was designated as the Sabbath. Only the most absolutely necessary things were done that could not be arranged prior to the day. (Matthew 12:11 and Luke 13:15) Even the distance a man could travel was curtailed. (Acts 1:12)
It would appear that the emphasis is not so much on which particular day is observed as holy, but on what is done on the Sabbath. The seventh day is a rather arbitrary term. Depending on how any certain schedule runs, it begins and ends on different days. What day specifically is the seventh? A lot of argument could be made for this. From a purely business, MONDAY is designated at the ‘first of the week.’ Given this designation, then Sunday is the seventh day. I believe the point is not the specific day but that we have one day that is specifically set aside for sacred purposes
Now we come to the sticking point of whether or not we really observe Sunday as our Sabbath. In the not too recent past, Sunday was totally a day of rest,. Even sinners observed these practices. Only those absolutely necessary things that couldn’t possibly be done beforehand were done on Sunday-- perhaps milking the cows and turning them out to graze. Other arrangements were made to be sure any work that could be done ahead of time was completed before Sunday arrived.
I can remember my father talking about their house on Sunday. This would have been in the 1920’s. He had specific toys that were reserved only for Sunday because they were quiet and didn’t disturb the reverent silence of the day. They were still things, no rowdy little boy romping; they did puzzles, played jack straws, drew pictures, etc. He talked about his Ma making as much of the food as possible on Saturday afternoon so meals could be prepared with a minimum of work… All of Sunday morning was spent in worship services. Good Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes were worn all day and that ensured children and adults were more careful of their actions. Sunday afternoon was a quiet time with Bible reading at bedtime.
When I was a child, we spent all of Sunday morning in worship services. Sunday dinner was the main meal and there was only a quick easy snack before we returned to Sunday evening services at 6:30 or 7:00 pm. Often family and friends visited in the afternoon and the time was spent visiting. Many times the topic of conversation centered on religious doings, but certainly no secular or financial arrangements were made. All the stores were closed. All the shops and factories were closed. We children were allowed to play outside, but any running and screaming and chasing was met with quick reprimand.

Gradually the world has crept in. First more and more people neglected to attend church services on Sunday. Gas stations were the first things I can remember staying open on Sundays. People needed to get gas for expeditions on their “day-off”. Sunday had become a “day off” instead of a “day of rest”. One by one other business began opening their doors on Sunday. People needed to buy groceries on their day off. They needed to be able to get to the drug store if someone was sick and so forth. And of course, if these businesses were open they had to have clerks there to help the customers. And so the situation snowballed.

Of course these were all “necessary” work. And I heard the excuse many times: “Farmers have to milk the cows on Sunday. How is this any different?” Well you know and I know how it is different, but again it was the Devil’s best gift of rationalizing.

So now the question becomes not do we observe the seventh day as a Sabbath, but do we observe any day as the Sabbath. Do we observe any day as a day of rest, sanctified to the Lord? I’m afraid that too many ‘good Christians” don’t.

This isn’t to condemn or find fault but only to stir up our minds. The Ten Commandments are still part of our standard today, but do we observe and obey them? And this fourth one is a prickly point for many.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

visiting nephews!

LOL Rachael has re-affirmed her determination not to have kids. LOL She and Michael are in a tizzy. Why? All because they have their nephews for the evening! Two pretty-good little boys--Tyler, who has been staying with us for the last week and Zach who is Michael’s brother's stepson, one 9 and one 8--have them stressed to the max. Keep in mind they have only been here since about 6:00 pm.

Michael decided to take the boys to the Crew’s Buck-a-Brat Night—$1 brats and activities on the field before the game, then the soccer game and home. Now how hard can that be? There should be plenty of excitement to keep them occupied and entertained for a couple hours or so.

Oh yes, the boys are ‘camping out’ on the floor of the den and Michael rented a movie for them to watch until they fall asleep. I figure that after the park this morning with Freddy (Zach’s dad and Michael’s brother) and all the excitement of the Crew game and all the junk they’ll eat and all the soccer ball chasing they’ll do, those two kids should be exhausted. They’ll fall asleep before the Care Bears finish their first adventure! Of course, they are planning to stay up “real late”—like until day break. LOL I’m thinking maybe 10:30 tops!

What is really funny is that Rachael and Michael are very well organized and have their lives all together. There really is time to fit in two little boys who really do behave themselves. They could just kind of slip into the seams and not even make many waves, but R & M are in a panic. Tyler and I played Go Fish and Pick-up Stix. To add Zach would not be such a great task. Rachael fixed Tyler three bowls (gradually decreasing in size) of Coconillas (no joke, that’s the name of them!) for breakfast. It might empty the box of cereal, but Zach would probably be happy with that, too. Tyler is a very picky eater, but for one day they could take the easy way out and give him French fries and cookies. Zach too. He’ll be gone tomorrow. Monday will be soon enough to get Tyler back on track.
I keep trying to tell them that a baby of your own just fits in with your life without any ripples. (Or at least the ripples don’t seem to be any bother.) They seem to think every day will be like having your nephews visit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I read a devotion the other day about ‘exercising our will’ in choosing the course of our decisions each day. Whether to return the extra change the clerk gives us, whether to consider it a gift when the girl at McDonalds’ neglects to ring up our coke or to speak spitefully to the neighbor’s four year old when she picks our daffodils—those kinds of choices were the ones that the author was focusing on. And I could see her point. But as so many times happens, I continued to think on the topic and came to the conclusion that there was a much greater exercise of will that the child of God chooses to pursue.

Many times we hear sinners say that in following the Lord we are giving up the responsibility for taking care of ourselves and choosing our self direction. But in reality, we are exercising a greater amount of self direction than the person who simply goes with the flow of the world, wrapped up in Satan’s control.
It requires no self control, no exercise of will, to choose between two human courses. Either one will accomplish Satan’s end. We may waver between the two options in choosing the one which will result in the greater self-gratification, but ultimately our fleshly good is the only standard for selection. Satan offers no opposition or difficulty when we exercise this sort of ‘self-direction.’ He presents two course of action that will accomplish his purpose then sits back and allows us our ‘freedom of choice.”

We find in Deuteronomy 30:10 the ultimate choice. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. As ‘free moral agents” we must look beyond the particular day to day choices and first choose between ‘life and death, blessing and cursing” We must lift our eyes above the mundane to the eternal. Once this ultimate choice is made, the others become simpler. We are no longer forced to weigh options in the light of the greatest self-gratification but only in the light of the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Choosing Life initially results in greater wisdom for the lesser decisions that face to us from day to day. The day to day choices follow logically from our choice for Life. Once we have put God’s Way above our own, we simply “choose” follow Him. It is the initial choice that is of the greatest import and the one that Satan is most interested in getting us to overlook. He would rather bring it down to making the Christian life seem to be one of constant weakness “being controlled by God.”

Making this initial choice is “a deliberate calculation, not something into which we drift easily; and everything else is in abeyance until we decide.” No other choice is of any import until then. No choice Satan brings before us prior to that will have any bearing on our eternal future. But once that resolution for life is truly settled upon our course of action in all the lesser decisions becomes clearer and easier.

Of course, Satan will continue to harass us and endeavor to influence our choices for the wrong, but the greatest battle, at least for me, was that initial choice. Once that was settled my course was laid out.

This follows closely with today’s scripture. Contentment is a result of having settled in your heart that we will serve the Lord. That decision makes our life one of circumcision. Our lot in life is that which the Lord has determined for us, why should we be discontent? Our health is that which the Lord as allotted us, why must we complain? Our money, our house, our livelihood, as we follow Christ will follow naturally along.

Now this is not to say we will not do our best to provide for ourselves. We will take care of the bodies the Lord has given us and we will be careful of our livelihood and our finances. Should the Lord place in our pathway an opportunity to better our existence in some material way, we will take advantage of that chance within the parameters of godliness. We will provide the best things for our families as the Lord makes us able. None of these will be a subject of constant worry. Nor will we be continually longing for our neighbor’s car or his income. We will be content with the life choices the Lord has provided for us.

As Paul said we will be good stewards of that which the Lord has blessed us. And we will be content there in. Should we strive for anything, it will be a closer relationship with the Father.

What peace that way of living provides!

Monday, July 13, 2009

a good Sunday

Up early this morning and talked to Notah as he was going to work.. Always one my favorite parts of the day. When I was at his house most times I was awake when he was going to work at five o’clock. Now it wasn’t always solving-the-world’s-problems type of conversation and sometimes it was just, “mmm, aah… g’ mornin’.” But still it was a connection, which is all too rare these days. And sometimes, if he had time, he’d sit on the sofa and drink his coffee while we just talked a while about nothing important. Good time.

I had a great day yesterday too. After Rachael left for her weekend shift at Krogers, I started studying on the ten commandments… spent a long time on that.( well, hmm, maybe that was Saturday. But I was doing bible study that lasted all morning yesterday, too.) Then I posted a bit on the Christian Growth group. But the best part was in the afternoon when Donna sent me a link to her Sunday morning services! She just attended the service for the first time and wanted me to hear it. It was truly wonderful. Good preaching and singing. Sounded like good old fashioned Church of God! And get this! The sisters had on skirts and most of them had sleeves in their dresses! In this hot weather! That blessed me as much as the message.

Donna was saved by reading her bible and communicating with me and others on line and other places. When I first started talking with her she was a pretty staunch, but not practicing, Catholic. But the Lord kept dealing with her and she gave her heart to Him. She has come a long way since she was saved, but she has never had a church home. I think she may have found one. I certainly didn’t hear anything contrary in the two messages I heard. The good spirit seemed to flow over the monitor screen. The Lord certainly knew she was going to be there too because the message was just for her. She has been discouraged because the financial trials facing every one have hit her and her husband pretty hard.

Her husband was giving her a rough time because she wants to be baptized. (She has never had the opportunity before) But she stuck to her guns and ignored him. He was going around saying, “Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits,” just putting her down for going to a real church instead of the little mission style outreach meetings she has attended when she had a chance. But, thank the Lord, when she emailed me in the evening she said he was very quiet when she came home. I mentioned the verse in I Peter 3:1 to her and encouraged her to keep going to this congregation because it seems the devil doesn’t want her there.

I wish that more real church of God congregations would put in live-stream links for their messages. I can’t get to service but I would dearly love to be able to enjoy the messages (and the rest of the service too) on line. I haven’t found one yet. I think maybe the strictures against television have hindered us from utilizing a fantastic tool for reaching sinners. Some are “iffey” about watching things on the computer too.

Rachael is trucking around getting ready for Michael to come home from his grandma’s birthday celebration/family reunion. He has been gone since Friday. His grandma is about 90 and he hasn’t seen her for a couple years or more. I guess I’ll get off here for now

I want everyone to see Rachael and Michael. I've talked about them but there aren't any pictues of them. So here they are at Dean Jr.'s graduation party.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

weightier issues

I just traveled across the country, lots and lots of miles, and the reality of today’s religious scene impacted on me. There is a dramatic scarcity of true church of God congregations. Oh there are many church buildings. There are many congregations, but very few true churches. In the area where Notah lives ( and he has a very long driving distance threshold ) there are at least 5 ‘Church of God” churches. He visited all of them. I believe he said that two were false tongues movements and the others were modern congregations with no difference in message than any other denomination.

Then I think of the ‘real’ church of God congregations that I’ve been associated with during my life. The lack of unity among them is appalling. Each little group has its own set of “standards” and refuses to fellowship any other that doesn’t maintain exactly the same ones. I’m not talking about abandoning immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. And adhering to love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence.) (Galatians 5:10-24) In those areas they at least give lip service.

The deeper schism occurs over those areas that are often termed “gray” areas. How long must a woman’s hair be to distinguish her from a man? How short is short for a man’s hair? Can it be too short? Is it the length or the style that differentiates between men’s and women’s hair? Must a woman wear a scarf or ‘prayer cap’ type of covering? Can a woman deal with her long, long hair by braiding it or twisting it up? ( I Peter #:3 “plaited, broidered hair”) Or must it be loose? Or tucked inside a cap or scarf that hides it all at all times?

What exactly is modesty? A woman’s style of ‘trousers’ is very different from a man. Do they still “pertain to the man”? Are loose trousers on a woman always more ‘modest’ than a skirt? How about countries where the woman’s style of clothing mandates long trousers? How long and in what style does a woman’s skirt need to be to qualify as ‘modest’? Who determines that? It even comes down to colors of clothing! Should clothing for men and women be only pastels, grays and black or white. Is there a specific style or pattern to be adhered to in women’s dresses? How about men’s shirts and pants? How about neckties?

What exactly qualifies as ‘worldly amusement”? Why is television unacceptable and not radio? Or are both unacceptable? How about videos and DVD? Are fairs and farm shows unacceptable? How about parks, picnics and playgrounds? Are sports events worldly?
What exactly does the ‘wearing of gold” mean? Wedding rings? Watches? Hair clips? Bright buttons? Do the scriptures ( I Peter 3:3-4 and I Timothy 2: 9-10 specifically) actually prohibit these things or only recommend good works and meekness in preference to them? Do the strictures apply only to women or to men also?

These all sound like foolish issues when set out this way, but I’ve heard every single one of them hotly disputed among the churches of God. And sometimes the disputes themselves breached the limits of peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness veering dramatically into enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper, selfishness, divisions and dissensions. Why does going to a fair, wearing lipstick or watching a tv program matter when the individual is being angry and accusatory and divisive in his insistence on his own conviction? Yet I’ve heard men (and women) vehemently maintaining their own righteousness above that of someone who had a television…or whatever.

Now keep in mind that I’m not disputing holiness in any of these things. I believe that skirts are more becoming to a woman professing godliness. I believe that a woman’s adornment should be a meek spirit and good works. I believe that a woman must not endeavor to adopt any of the traits of a man or usurp her husband’s position in the home. I believe that a woman’s hair must be longer than the man’s. And I’ve lived my life that way, much to the irritation of many. I will not however shun any sister who does not see these standards the same as I do. Nor will I question or condemn her salvation.
The difficulty comes in when we put so much emphasis on these standards that we “strain at gnats” and ignore the ‘weighter issues’ that have greater impact on our following God. I‘ve found women (I’ll talk about women because I know them better. *smile*) who had nice long skirts and long hair and no make up, no wedding ring either, but who have such nasty, managing, bossy spirits that their husbands don’t dare make an I dependent decision. They will cut their neighbors and sisters in the Lord with a caustic tongue not giving it a second thought, claiming their right to speak their mind! Yet they are accepted as good Christian women, while the sister with a sleeveless dress and a wedding ring is rejected in spite of her humble, quiet, loving spirit. This false standard ought not to be.
I have a friend with whom I share with on line. We have enjoyed some good spiritual truths in the Lord. Recently she discovered that, as a memento, I will occasionally wear a piece of jewelry given me by a close relative and also that my hair is shorter than her church deems acceptable. I’m no longer addressed as “sister”. It saddens me. I will never confront her. Nor will I condemn her. I’m sure she believes she is doing the right thing. It is just a sad fact that should not be spoken of among those who call themselves the People of God.

Satan is doing a great work among those who should be standing for the Lord and reaching the world with the message of truth. We have gotten away from trying at the spirit of people to “decide” whether or not they are living for the Lord and have begun making decisions about their experience based on outward appearances—what color their clothes are, how long their skirts are, whether or not they have colored buttons or plain ones, whether a man wears a necktie or just buttons the collar band around his neck. How foolish that we allow Satan to work ill among the people of God. We destroy our witness when we put so much emphasis on these things that sinners cannot hear the message of Salvation and Joy in the Lord for the static of fleshly quibbling.

As Christ told the Pharisees, these we ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Matthew 23:23 We ought to live out the convictions that the Lord has laid upon us as individuals, not spend valuable time impressing it upon others. Instead we ought to be teaching the story of salvation and portraying the joy of God. As Christ said, the first is not unimportant, but the greater things are getting left undone. We must do both.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I’m tired tonight. Seems like I’ve been that way for about two weeks. The trip home took a lot out of me. Yesterday and today, though, I think I have a good reason. My chair broke! Tuesday night I had to move to the den to sleep in the recliner there, so my night was disturbed. Wednesday I spent most of the day sitting in there. Last night Rachael and Michael moved the recliner to my room so things were better, but it still isn’t ‘my’ chair. I thought we might have to trash it, but Michael says he believes he can fix it. He really is a miracle worker in a lot of things.

I’m constantly impressed by the things he can make out of steel. Fortin Ironworks is known throughout the Midwest for their stylistic furniture and Michael has learned his job well. He made customized light shades for the chandeliers in our house and visitors notice them as soon as the walk in the door. He made my curtain rod for the window. The finials are shaped like a tree branch with small leaves. We have beautiful little half circle table at our front entrance. It has a marble top and twisted iron legs. Michael built it! It is the second thing visitors notice. He even built our dining room table!! Bronze legs and center braces support a chocolate granite table top. It sits under a custom chandelier with shades that match the ones hanging along the balcony and stair way. It’s beautiful. I'm proud of him.

When you combine his know-how with Rachael’s eye for color and decorating, it is a winning combination. While I was gone they re-did my room. It was already very pleasant, but when we moved in the airducts were filled with soot or smoke residue. It made the nice paint job in my room all black shaded along the corners and above the registers. It bothered them much more than it did me—read this ‘not at all’

While I was gone they re-painted in my favorite colors—gold and orange. Three walls are dusty desert gold and the other is a deep burnt orange! I love it. Michael installed my drapery rod and hung deep chocolate velvet curtains from it. The old blinds were dyed to match the orange wall. A new set of drawer pulls on my old dresser and bureau completely changed their look to something Mediterranean and exotic. The dresser sits against the burnt orange wall that has a collection of family photos grouped on it. Either end of the dresser has a beautiful lamp with candelabra bulbs shining through the metal stencil shades. They make a wrought iron flower design on the wall. It is such a cozy room. They did a great job on it.
It almost but not quite compensates for the early morning view from the window facing east in my bedroom at Notah’s house. Almost. But nothing can replace the cool tangy desert breeze the swept through the open door. Or the warm morning sunlight on the floor.

But in the night time, with the blinds closed, the dogs curled on the pillows or their beds, and the warm glow of the candelabra patterns shining on the warm orange wall my newly decoated room has to be the coziest room in the world.
My desert room is a morning room. My Ohio room is a nighttime room. My desert room is open spaces and sweeping wind and wide sky. My Ohio room is close and comforting and cozy. My desert room opens into the fragrance of juniper and sage sweeping down from the mountains. My Ohio room opens to the deep green fragrance of grass and summer flowers wafting across the lake before the house. My desert house holds my grandkids and Notah and Kerra. My Ohio house has my cats and my books and Rachael and Michael. I only wish there weren’t 2000 miles in between. Teleportation is looking better and better.
Now THIS was my "Portabello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger'!
That's what I call a sandwich! Wow. I just wanted to share it with you. I also had a side salad. Everyone else had fries with it, but in deference to Doctor Nickleson and her low carb instructions I let the fries go. The bun was certainly enough carbs!
I tested my blood glucose two hours later and it was only 114, so I didn't do real bad with it.

If you live somewhere that you can get Carl's Junior's hamburgers (seems like a mundane name for this wonderful construction!) GO GET ONE! But don't get anything else. One of these is enough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

where to start

My goodness. I noticed when I pulled up the blog page that the last time I posted was June 21! Seems like such a long, long time. So much has happened and so many miles have rolled under the wheels of our car!

In all the many years and trips to the southwest, it has always been difficult to actually leave. It just seems that we plan a time, but then something comes up and we put it off a few minutes or have to run and see about something first. This time Rachael and Michael said we were leaving on Monday morning aboaut ten or eleven, but before noon… Yeah, right.

First they decided to go with Kerra to see Tome Hill, the site of the annual Easter pilgrimage commemorating Christ’s trip up Golgotha; but also the site of many petroglyphs from ancient peoples. So they did that…

Then Notah called. He had gone to work at 430 am and hadn’t gotten to talk too much to Rachael and Michael. He thought maybe we could meet him in Albuquerque and have lunch with him. So after a frantic search for the spare key to the Rodeo, we all loaded up and drove into Albuquerque. Seth wanted very much to ride with Michael and Grandma. (He'd been having a hard time all morning, wavering between contrary and sad and grouchy. He never said the words but I know he hated for me to go as much as I hated to leave him) so Rachael, bless her heart, rode with Kerra and Keva so Seth got one last ride with Grandma.

We met him at 1:30 (uh-huh, see what happened to ‘before noon’) But we did have lunch from Carl’s Jr’s. We ate in a little local park and Seth demonstrated his skateboarding skills once more in the drainage ditch beside it. Then with another round of hugs and a real struggle with tears for Grandma and Seth, we parted.

But even still, we had one more stop! Rachael had promised a friend to buy her an Indian bracelet so we stopped at a little Native Jewelry store to get that. And finally we were moving out of Albuquerque.

It never gets any easier. After 40 years, it has never gotten easier.