Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome, Old Friends!

I found a beautiful quote today. I found it in an old, old book. It was titled "Faith Made Easy" by James H. Potts, published in 1888. There in the front of the book, just after the publisher information and before the preface were a few passages from different works, one of which struck me so powerfully when I read it that I saved it, and decided to post it here in my blog.

"No one is so much alone in the universe as a denier of God. With an orphaned heart, which has lost the greatest of fathers, he stands mourning by the immeasurable corpse of nature, no longer moved or sustained by the Spirit of the universe, but growing in it’s grave; and he mourns, until he himself crumbles away from the dead body."

~ Richter

I almost want to leave off there for tonight, it's such an intense thought to ponder. The depth of the reality of it all was like a slap in the face to me. Then I started thinking about the writer. 'Who' Richter? I tried to discover who, but I have absolutely no idea, and that is shameful!

There are so many wonderful books by inspired writers that are fading away. It seems such a shame that so much has been lost to time in old, out of print books. People poured their hearts and lives into them, and now they lay unopened, collecting dust someplace destined to be forgotten. It just doesn't seem right to treat those venerable old volumes with such disregard. Any time I see one I thumb through it's pages simply because they should be thumbed through at least once more.

I may be a little behind everyone else, but I've recently discovered a really wonderful feature on the Google search page. Actually, I think my husband showed it to me. Whatever way I came across it, for about four or five months now I can't get my nose out of it. It's Google Books. Google has really done something wonderful here. They have resurrected the old, dying books for a new generation to see if we will just go look at them. I love old books, and I have been consumed with exploring them ever since I found this feature!

Go to the main Google search page and go to the top left side of the page. There's a fly down menu on the right side of that little menu bar that says "more." Go in there and click "books", type in your search parameters, enter, and there it is. That's pretty cool, but wait... there's more! (Sounded like an infomercial there, didn't I?) After you do that, look up just above the list of results in your window. There's another little fly down menu that says "Showing: All Books." Open that and it will give you the option "full view only." Select that and you should get a new list of mostly very old, out of print books in there entirety that you can download to your computer!

I don't know if that is exciting to anyone else, but I think it's wonderful! There are bits of history sprinkled there that aren't common knowledge to us any more. How do you build a fireplace that you can cook in, sit around and heat your house with? Or better yet, how did the great-grandfather of a man writing a book in the eighteen nineties build a one? What was commonly found in an average Victorian era home? What do you feed your cow if you want good butter? Where did your local dialects originate? It's endless, and it's interesting! At least it is to me.

I know I can't read them all. Some would bore me to tears anyway, but it's nice to know that they are preserved. They have a new opportunity to been seen by the eyes of a whole new generation of people. The authors can live a little bit longer. The lore isn't altogether lost. Thanks, Google.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go S.O.A.P. Yourself

One of my pastors recently came across a good Bible Study program. He got himself and the youth group at church started on it and they seemed to benefit from it right away. It was so exciting to him that he got the pastor on board, and the next thing we knew all of the staff, administration, and leadership at the church had a nice little, leather, personal devotional planner. It's called S.O.A.P. and it stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Essentially it's a Bible reading schedule with a journal and worksheets that sort of help you clarify what you're getting out of your time spent with God and in His Word. The little folder he got for me isn't necessary at all in order to use the study program, but if he hadn't gone to the personal expense and trouble to get it for me, I might not have looked into is as seriously I did.

I'm not real big on "trendy" things at any level, but most especially where my faith is concerned. Trends in Christianity kind of gross me out. You'd have thought that Rick Warren's "A Purpose Driven Life" was the sixty-seventh book of the Bible! I'm sure it was great. Lots of wonderful people that I respect have read it and told me that it's a great book. Maybe someday I'll read it, but I tend to steer clear of most trendy things during the peak of their trend-dom. Stubbornness? Rebelliousness? No, not really. I've seen too many silly trends, and I've watched too many people look ridiculous, or worse, get hurt by them. I find it all the more repulsive in Christendom. I just think if it's as good as all that it will stand the test of time, and I will happily read a timeless classic later on.

The reason I decided to go ahead and investigate this "trendy" little program is because it doesn't require that you purchase anything new. It's text book is the Bible. There's no slant or bias, because there's no commentary or workbook type material to go with it. What it does for me is assist me in organizing myself as far as my personal study habits are concerned, and it helps me organize my own thoughts. In the short time I've been using it I've seen some improvement in comprehension, or at least in recognizing that I'd been missing a lot with my old study habits. It is helping me be introspective, to look at things more completely. It's training me to be more mindful of God's presence and causes me to see more fully what He's trying to show me. It helps clarify things.

There's a journaling aspect to this plan, too, and I know from just having started blogging, sporadic as I can be sometimes, that journals are key to growth and understanding, not to mention remembering things you were just sure you wouldn't forget. Journaling is different, and I'm sort of struggling with the transition, but I can envision myself settling into it fairly soon. I can see that this is going to be a wonderful, powerful tool if I will be diligent to do it. I'm very optimistic about it, because over all I have been diligent in my Christian walk in the past, striving to learn and grow, and this is just a better, more efficient, more refined way, I guess, to do the same thing.

It shouldn't be any great leap to go from keeping a blog to keeping a journal, so I thought it would be good to share this here in the great blogosphere, amongst my vast readership of six or eight at this point, where it might be well received. I copied and pasted an article from ehow .com below that explains the process better than I could, and my husband put together a Bible reading plan that you can access on one of my other pages here. Feel free to print it out and use it.

Do yourself a favor and give it some consideration.

Be blessed.

Original post:

S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. It’s a great way to delve more deeply into your Bible reading, and record your thoughts, emotions and connections when studying scripture. S.O.A.P. is meant to be a journal you create with your regular Bible reading, using the process as you read each day, but it can also be an effective tool to help you connect with particular passages. You can use it with any Bible reading plan, whether you’re reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation, or following a reading plan from your church, study Bible or theinternet.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Bible
  • paper or journal
  • pen

Use the S.O.A.P Method of Bible Reading

Find a quiet time and space to read your Bible, preferably at the same time each day. Many people find that reading scripture in the morning helps get their day off to a focused start.

Complete the “S” by reading the scripture. Don’t just skim through it, but really think about what it means. Imagine what the people involved were experiencing. Write down a verse or two that really stood out to you in your journal.

Complete the “O” by writing down observations about the scripture you just read. You may want to write your own summary of the passage, but more importantly, think about what God has to say to you through this part of his word.

Complete the “A” by writing down how this Bible passage applies to you right now, in your daily life. For example, in the parable about the prodigal son, which character do you identify with most: the loving and merciful father, the son who squanders his life and then repents or the resentful older brother? Do you see similar situations in your life right now? How can you respond in the way Jesus taught?

Complete the “P” by writing down a prayer. This is a personal message from you to God, so don’t worry about getting the perfect words down. Just make it honest and heartfelt. Remember that God always listens, and already knows your needs. He just wants to hear from you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wesnesday Night Services

I'm really excited! Pastor Norm is going to let different people preach at least once a month in the regular services on Wednesday nights. He told me about it last night. I know that doesn't mean just me, but it does include me! I love teaching my class, it's wonderful and I love the people in it, but when I preach it's just different. I'm called to preach, so that's where I feel most comfortable, and where I fit best. Besides loving it, I can always use all the practice I can get.

The idea of preaching from the same pulpit as Pastor Norm and Pastor Joe is pretty cool, too! I couldn't be in better company. Who better to learn from? Sometimes I go about my mundane little existence and forget how very blessed I am to be able to sit under the anointing of such men of God. I don't know anyone I think more highly of than Norm Taylor. Aside from being a wonderful and anointed man of God, he's just a wonderful human being. I prayed and asked the Lord to add people to my life who could teach me about love and kindness, and walking in Christian love as is fitting a minister, and He sent me to Norm and Pearl Taylor. I can not express my gratitude.

Joe is getting better every service. He's red hot! He can explain some of the toughest concepts as well as I've ever heard anyone do it. Sometimes I forget he's just a thirty year old pup! LOL! He's got wisdom and depth of understanding way beyond his years. I'd rather sit under him and Norm than anyone I can name. We all seem to be on the same page, too. We are all feeling the Lord's leading and getting revelation on the same kinds of things. The Hispanic ministry is, too. Everything is really coming together. Our direction is becoming clearer and we're all on board.

To be able to sit with these guys and learn from them is a gift. My husband and I had prayed that the Lord would get us in a church where we could learn and study under the anointing of a strong man of faith. We were prepared to move far away because we knew of a great church we'd like to attend. Then, the Lord brought us here. I'm so thankful that God answers prayers according to His will and plan and not our own! I'd have moved away by now and missed all of this.

It's not to say we'll never go. We will. But it's our greatest desire to be in the center of God's will for our lives, and right now that's here. Nothing feels better than to be in the center of His will, either, and I couldn't be happier than to be in Kingman right now. I thought I'd never hear myself say that!

So anyway, I'm really excited about everything! Pastor told me once that if I wanted to teach a series that took several services that he'd let me, but I've never wanted to ask... makes me feel pushy. If I don't stink on the Wednesday nights that I get to be in there, maybe then I can build up to it. ;-) Once I get my license I wont feel as weird about it, either. It shouldn't be too much longer.

So, the adventure continues!

Be blessed!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So It Begins

2009! Woo-hoo!

People get so excited about a new year, and frankly, I don't really get it. For me it's just the next day. January first? It's no different than August twelfth or February twenty-third. Why not declare October first a holiday and take it off from work? It's the first day of the new fiscal year, so why not fuss over that? We have a lot of ridiculous "holidays" but most of the holidays we actually get time off of work over are days that have some real historical or national significance. New Year's Day? Um... no. Just a conjured, non-event that we try to put stock in as being some sort of new beginning, or a harbinger. It's Omen Day or something.

We tend to place too much emphasis on all of it's little traditions. One of the local traditions when I was growing up was to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to assure prosperity and a good new year. How weird is that? And how about this one: "Whatever you're doing at the stroke of midnight is what you'll do all year." Maybe I'll give everyone I know a one hundred dollar bill during the day on December thirty-first so that I can invite them all to my house that night, and have them hand it back to me at midnight. That way people will be giving me money all year! What if I were overly intoxicated and passed out draped over a toilet in a public place? Do I have to stay there now for the rest of the year? What if my watch was off just a bit, and I decided to run to the bathroom quickly before the witching hour, but upon returning to the highly over-rated festivities, I realized that I'd missed it, and in fact I was urinating at the stroke of twelve?

This whole business of the New Year's resolution is a lazy notion. One day per year we must stop and pay attention to the things in our lives that we know are not good and we should be doing something about, make a solemn resolution to change these things knowing full well and even planning to break them, and then we don't have to think about it again for another year! Wow! What a deal! And some of these same people think Catholicism is odd for it's confession and absolution doctrine. Maybe the party was our penance.

Yes, the New Year's Eve Party! Back when I attended such things, I remember all of the preparations and expectation that swirled around the grand event. What will I wear? Who will I go with? Hair? Nails? Heels or flats? Brewski or the hard stuff? The affair was never as wonderful as your expectations demanded that it be, and usually the morning after held many regrets and uncomfortable reminders about how short it actually fell.

Why do we even celebrate such a mundane thing? Because it offers us hope. We want so badly to be able to start over. We long to have a new beginning because we know we are desperately in need of one. We want it so badly that we set aside a day every year to give us that starting point even though we know through and through that it means absolutely nothing. It's just the next day. It will never live up to the expectations placed on it, because it can't. The problem isn't the celebration, the party, the expectations or the day, it's us.

In our hearts we know we need to start over, have another chance, because we've done so many things and made so many bad decisions and mistakes. Not only can we not fix them, but we know in our hearts that we're bound to do more of the same, and no resolution is sound enough, no amount of determination strong enough to keep us from failing again.

"New Day" should be "the event" and not new year's day. We wouldn't leave a festering wound with a lick and a promise for an entire year or it would kill us, but we ignore the things of our hearts because they are unseen and can be temporarily put out of our minds as well. Rest assured, they will surface again, and they are as critical as any wound to your flesh. Contrary to popular beliefs, you aren't strong if you ignore it, hide it, and cowboy up, nor are you "dealing with it" by bemoaning it all and rehearsing it to your friends or your therapist. That's only coping, which is just a socially acceptable way to say you're keeping it, but you're trying to manage the damage it causes.

God has a better plan. He can take it and you can move on and be free without it. Sound better?

Each day is a gift from God, and His mercy is new every morning. Now that's a reason to get excited. From day to day, every day, our God and Father is with us, is willing, and is well able to heal whatever ails us and give us the new beginning that we need and crave. All we have to do is learn to walk in a trusting relationship with Him, and He sent His Only Begotten Son to show us how. What a promise! What a trade off! What an adventure!

Ask me how I know!

Maybe that's why I just don't get it about New Year's Day.