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I should just go ahead an announce a blog hiatus because every time I have ever done that I've been able to write. It's not that I don't have anything to write, it's just organizing thoughts into something coherent. Of course, there will be no coherency in this post just because. ;) I took off work Friday so I could take the hubster to court. Told him early in the week that I had the day off. Late Thursday night he informed me that he had another ride. Alrighty then. He nearly got arrested due to the county rescheduling and not letting anyone know but him. So he goes back in June and I will not be his transportation this time. Since I had the day, I took care of some bidness at the insurance agent, and went to Chapel Hill to pick up my race packet for the Tar Hell 10 Miler. I love how fancy it's all personalized. More on the race later. I was a little hungry and definitely thirsty, so I stopped in Pittsboro at Chatham Marketplace, and they had what I wanted. I decided to have some fun and sent my sponsor a text saying, "So I picked up a 6 pack for lunch..." I followed that up with this pic: 6-pack After eating the second one, I sent Petra a text saying that I had just had a mouthgasm. Yes, it was that good. About the 10 miler. I woke up at 4:30 am with abdominal cramps from hell. Same thing happened about a month ago. So rather than treating it as a stomach bug, I took some ibuprofen and the pain was gone around noon. I don't know what is up with that crap, or the hot flash from hell that had me up from 2-3:30 this morning. My knee is hurt also so there was a valid(ish) reason for not racing other than the fact that I haven't run in so long I don't remember the last time I ran. After the meds kicked in Saturday, the good idea fairy showed up and convinced me that since it was such a nice day it would be a great idea to wash and wax my car. I'm pretty sure running 10 miles would have been less painful. 4 hours, and I am still sore today. I got some good sleeps that night and didn't wake up until 9 yesterday. photo 3 Oh, and Amber hatched Easter Sunday: 2 are already spoken for, thank goodness. She had 4, but one didn't make it. Enjoy your Monday.

Full of grace

I don't have many readers left from the old days when I did a lot of political blogging. (And drunk blogging.) My writing was staunchly conservative and I was convince all liberals were idiots. While I have not ceased being conservative, I no longer think all liberals are idiots. Actually, I think there are no more liberal idiots than there are conservative idiots. The idiots are among the far left and the far right with most people more toward the middle and just leaning liberal or conservative. See how easily I threw the idiot card? That's the number one reason I don't blog about politics. It just pisses me off and stresses me out, and it's too easy to make sweeping generalizations in a nasty way. It's also why I don't listen to talk radio. Not political nor religious. Because in both cases the underlying result is to fire up the base, and get them angry enough to fight the people on the other side. Not to win them over to one side, but to force them to agree with that side, and demonize them if they don't agree. Win at all costs. Problem is, each side just digs in their heels more or more convinced that they are right and the other side is stupid/evil/lazy/greedy/jerks. The schism widens, the rhetoric ramps up, and the media (news, entertainment, religious) exploits it all further distorting and escalating the real issue driving the schisms even wider and the people angrier at each other until hate abounds albeit while many haters deny that they hate. But their words tell a different story. And this is why I don't spend so much time on Facebook anymore.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)
I think that we Americans are sort of hard-wired to fight for our rights (to paaaaartay! - Had to. Squirrel!). But I think that somewhere along the line as American Christians we blurred the line (if not completely removed it) between our United States citizenship and our citizenship in heaven. So many of us have been taught (whether explicitly or implicitly) that the United States is the new Israel ordained by God as a favored Christian nation. As such, we have elevated our nation's leaders beyond their clearly laid out constitutional mandate as leading our nation to be spiritual leaders of our nation also contrary to what is laid out in our constitution. We demand our leaders to proclaim they are Christian before we will vote for them, and then we cry and rage when they don't live up to what is really an unconstitutional standard. It is absolutely not a constitutional requirement for our elected officials to be Christians. It is also not a constitutional requirement of US citizenship to be Christian. Therefore it stands to reason that we are going to have leaders who are not Christians serving an electorate who either aren't Christians or aren't conservative Christians or are nominal/cultural Christians. Most importantly, not any of our elected officials are perfect (Christian or not) and every single earthly government makes a crummy god.
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)
Nero was emperor when Peter wrote that. No one in our government is an emperor nor does our government as a whole entity equate with being an emperor. Is our government corrupt? Absolutely, and so are we who elect our officials to office to serve us. So pray for them. Yes, be informed of their character. Yes, vote your conscience. Pray for your elected officials the same way you would pray for your best friend or family member. Don't demonize them because they don't do things the way you think you would if you were in their shoes. Don't demonize the people who vote differently than you do. Don't demonize unbelievers because they don't follow the American Christian moral code. Pray for everyone who doesn't think or believe the way you do not so they will become a clone of you but that if they don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to the Truth. Not what you think is true, but what is really and truly capital T Truth. Quit just throwing salt.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV
Rather than include the Beastie Boys, here's how Pastor Benji preached this concept. Hopefully I didn't lift too much of his material. ;)

Separation of Church and Hate - Part 1 from newhope church on Vimeo.

Being counter-cultural

This may end up being a continuation of yesterday's post though not in any specific manner. By that I mean I am not publicly elaborating on the incident. Or well, at least not until James and Lee talk to a couple of other folks and get to the bottom of what led up to Saturday's incident. And to set the stage for where I am coming from on all this, let me give you some info on my background for those who don't know. I grew up in very conservative Missionary Baptist churches who considered Southern Baptist too liberal, but not so strict as Independent Fundamental Baptists. My dad was a deacon, and both of my parents were very active in the local church with my dad generally also being active in the local association. Essentially, I fall under the category of "preacher's kid." I often say I've been a Baptist 12 years longer than I've been a believer even though I no longer belong to a Baptist church. I walked away from the church when I was 19, and it took nearly 20 years for me to return. When I came back, everything changed. I wanted to read my bible. I wanted to study it. I wanted to pray, and have learned through the reading and studying and my less than eloquent prayer that praying isn't about asking for what I want that I think will make me happy. I was the prodigal son for those 20 years away. But I was also still in the mindset I had grown up in which amounted to the prodigal's older brother. And I fed that with talk radio and reading certain pastors and Christian writers. But I just couldn't keep it down. It kept me hungry all the time because somehow I knew I wasn't really growing, and was instead stressing on things that weren't mine to stress on. This is also why I don't blog about politics anymore. I was feeling too militant. Now with that out of the way, maybe I can remember what I was going to write about. ;) Using "counter-cultural" is usually used by Christians to other Christians to live differently than the world because we should not look and/or sound like non-believers. We are to be salt and light among the world to point to world to Jesus. And so we have our own culture, but if we aren't careful we make our own culture a little-g god of its own. We forget that our holiness comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and start acting like we are able to behave good enough to be worthy of grace. Once we do that, then we ourselves become the judge and determine who is worthy to belong among us by imposing a "conservative" set of rules that are meant to show 1) that we ourselves are spiritually mature and 2) to impose a faux spiritual maturity on spiritual babies who will either learn how to pretend or will eventually go away because they are made to feel so uncomfortable by being unable to live up to those who have deemed themselves spiritually mature enough to be the judge. This is how many churches end up bearing more of a resemblance to a country club than a gathering of followers of Jesus. Instead of reaching out and embracing the lost, we end up reaching out to fill our pews with people who either already look and act like us or who are willing to pretend in order to fit into the church culture. Instead of making disciples, we are making cliques. Then when someone dares to buck against the church culture we unbiblically run them off (often in secret or known only among our little gossip cliques), or when someone gets fed up and leaves on their own (whether because of the gossip and backbiting/slander or not), they are shunned and treated as enemies. And then we wonder why our churches are in decline and/or outright dying and why we aren't growing. It really isn't rocket science.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)
There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn't fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world's exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.

Full speed ahead

I had big plans and topics for this week. But things aren't working out like I had planned. I'm in class for a couple of weeks so my mind is more occupied than normal with that. Last night was my scheduled counseling, so it was already late when I got home, and eating and going to bed were about all that happened. Tonight I plan to go to Al-Anon, but that's going to depend upon how I feel when I get home. Plus, I have a basket full of laundry from Saturday that needs to be put away which also means I have some pants and tops that need to either be thrown back in the dryer or actually ironed. Now, I have a post sitting in my drafts folder that kind of sums up why I don't believe in coincidences. However, I've never really liked how it sounds because since it primarily involves me, I am afraid it seems self-aggrandizing. This weekend there was an incident with Lee that I won't get into the details of because I have gossiped that enough even though I am still pretty pissed off about what happened to him. Anyway, James and I were informed of the incident that evening when we got to Lee & Rachel's. Through the course of all of this, James and I convinced Lee & Rachel to come to church with us at Newhope church. We normally go to the afternoon service, and they were all for that. Since I played with the worship team that day, I was there for all 3 services, and therefore got to hear Pastor Nate's sermon 3 times. I'm going back up a little at this point because I just realized it is relevant. The incident occurred where we (both my husband and I and Lee & Rachel) used to go to church, and only involved one person there. It actually probably involves 2, but the other one is purely speculative based on information I shouldn't know, but do because it indirectly impacted me. Anyway, I dumped part of my knowledge as I finally had the evidence of who was at the root of most of the trouble-making and connected a bunch of dots. And I was then told about another lady who also used to attend and why she finally quit going there. That crap pissed me all off too, because it's so blatantly unbiblical, self-righteous, and downright mean and just plain evil. So, there we all sat during the 3rd service, and Pastor Nate said, "If other churches don't want you, we do." That may not be the exact quote, but it's the exact meaning. And that was the only time in all 3 services I heard him say that, which just happened to be the one service that Lee & Rachel came to...their first time there. And after what had happened the day before. Coincidence? I don't think so. Now, for the friends I have at the old church who read my blog, I am not making a sweeping indictment of the entire church. Almost everyone there embodies how a follower of Jesus Christ should walk and conduct themselves. Also, I want to state for the record that I love each and every member of that church. But there are some destructive actions that have been made for at least 4 years that will have to be addressed sooner or later if that church is ever going to grow. And that means that someone is going to have to stand up to the bullies in truth and love.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)

I need to write a book

I'm serious. There are just so many things that I want to write about that are just too much for a blog post. Or several blog posts. Maybe if I say it enough, I'll actually start to do it? Right. Like I can finish a blog post. ;) But really, there have been a lot of things I've wanted to address, but they would be at least essay length and cover several topics. I want to say "Ain't nobody got time for dat!" I do though. I waste enough time with Whirly Word to write what I want to write. Then again, that is something easily interrupted without destroying my train of thought. Between working full time and homeschooling, there really isn't a whole lot of time left. Then there is just normal house & family stuff. And Al-Anon meetings. And therapy. And church. And running. And texting Petra to make me a pie and sharing TMI with her. #everybodypoops Anyway, I need to write a book about my spiritual journey. Ok, maybe it is more of a want than a need. Just things I've learned and experienced along the way complete with all the tripping and falling on my face that I've done...and still do. The struggle of a rebellious deacon's kid who knows what it is like to be both the prodigal son and his brother who wouldn't attend the party for the prodigal. The struggle with my fear and the conflict between that fear and speaking out. And not speaking out against cultural decline in general, but the decline within a divided church torn between the polar opposites of watered-down feel-good man-centered worship and the militant flag-waving get-America-back-to-God worship of 1950's America. Yeah. I want to write a book.

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