Friday, October 17, 2008

End Times At Ridgemont High

Look, I believe all Christians should be ready for what a friend called the *caughtupture*... since the Bible doesn't ever use the word *rapture*, but does mention being *caught up*, I love think the term is perfect!
Now, with all due respect to those who love to study Revelation, I believe knowledge is power, but you are fooling yourself if you think you know WHEN it's going to happen.

There are pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation theories in abundance. I don't want to over-simplifiy, but doesn't it just make good sense to BE READY???
And doesn't it make good sense to put your energies towards living a godly life, and trying to be a witness to the unsaved, rather than invest those end time classes? They don't make you paranoid?? Hey, there is nothing wrong with spiritual preparedness, and if you enjoy speculating about Revelation as a class, knock yourself out. It's just that time is limited and it's kind of shooting yourself in the foot to spend time in class when their are souls to be saved, AND the clock is ticking...just saying:-)
Let me break it down for you in a nutshell: There WILL be an Anti-Christ. He will be charming and persuasive and somehow over the course of his rule, we will be required to accept some type of MARK on our forehead or hand for identification. You can niether buy nor sell without this mark. Christians WILL be put to the greatest test in history. It will be illegal to worship God as we know now. At some point we will be told to denounce Christ, or be beheaded. (I'll take a tidy beheading if you don't mind. A small inconvenience compared to eternity in hell.) But without going into gross detail: Christians will be persecuted to the point of martyrdom.
SO, we know that we are close to the *end times* because of what Revelation has to plainly say about catastrophes, terrors, Isreal becoming a Nation, etc... But TIME is relative. So what we may consider *end times* could last centuries or not. Maybe Jesus is coming any minute. Why take a chance??? Get your heart right with God, repent of all your sin, known and unknown, and tomarrow morning, be serious in your walk with Christ. Live FOR Him and LIKE Him.
The flip side of the coin is; How do I know WHO to follow? Well, I'd love nothing more than you all to become Anabaptist and join the nearest Mennonite Church... but.... it's not likely gonna happen. So, lets examine the signs to avoid in a bad church leader and the signs to look for in a good one:
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe church/leader.

1) Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

2) No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

3) No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.

4) Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

5) There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

6) Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

7) The group/leader will use intimidation techniques and/or public humiliation to retain members.

8) Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

9) The group/leader is always right.
10) The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Phillipians 2:12 ¶ "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" It is NOT the job of another (church/leader/pastor/priest) to do it for you!.

Ten signs of a safe church/leader:

1) A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.

2)A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.

3) A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.

4) A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.

5)A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.

6)A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.

7)A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.

8) A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.

9) A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.

10) A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.
This list comes from the site:
It is my opinion that the above statements are good starting points to validate your church leadership, and determine if your being mislead.
Remember: Even bad leaders have the best intentions. Most have ego's and having them fed is an addiction.

Good leaders are humble and open, and not easily offended.
May God lead you all to a safe Church where His word is being studied and lived out.

Obamccain Superstar

GGrrrrr... This is getting ugly.
I have received no less than 50 FORWARDED e-mails regarding both McCain and Obama.

These don't come from people I share political dialogues or common politial views. They come from family and friends who probably mean very well, but have no idea that the smut they are promoting will NEVER change anyones political position. ITS AN EMAIL!!! And a multi-forwarded on at that.

The latest e-mail came from not one, not two, but 3 different people whom I am intensely close to stating that OBAMA is going to be the ANTI-CHRIST!! Then, I got another e-mail from another very well meaning individual stating that McCain and Palin are the ANTI-CHRIST!

Does anyone really believe this nonsense? People who listen to all the *End Time* propeganda are buying into a clever authors bait and hook to sell DVD'S and books, and study material. Folks, all you need is you bible and I can tell you 2 things that are TRUE: NO MAN SHALL KNOW THE DAY NOR TIME, (so you can flush all the predictions down the toilet), and THIS ISN'T and NEVER WAS A CHRISTIAN NATION! It might have been predominately Christian, but ALL religions are welcome here.

Now, I would love nothing more than to live in a Christian nation. But that would require mandating Christianity to every citizen, and we would no longer have separation of Church and State.
This is a FREE country and as of the REFORMATION, we no longer are required by the State to serve a particular church. It is NOT against the law to be Muslim, but Obama isn't anyway.

I would LOVE to have a Christian President. Both candidates claim to be. One is a war-monger, and the other supports partial birth abortion. When did Murder start being qualified? Like: If I kill a En-Utero 4 week old, a or a 4 year old, it's somehow not as heinous as if I kill a 40 year old? Isn't taking a life Murder??? Isn't it MURDER if your in another country and you don't like those people or what they stand for?? I'm not saying there isn't a time for self defense, but both candidates if elected, will have blood on their hands...anyway you look at it. That's why they say: War is hell.

I also believe that the men serving our country do so with the upmost honor and integrity with every intention of keeping this country safe. But I also know that the government uses them like puppets to do their dirty work (Viet Nam), and there is more going on behind the scenes than just what the media tells us. Politicians of every country use war and killing to do their bidding. Innocent people will die either in another country if we vote for McCain (they already are) as well as our own boys over in Iraq, and innocent, unborn people will die if we vote for Obama.

However, it will take the majority house vote to pass laws regarding partial birth abortion. Simply because Obama is pro-choice doesn't mean he gets to make up the rules as he goes. Lets keep one thing in mind: Abortion is legal and it has been for over 30 years. This isn't new. And do you believe for one minute that abortion would stop even if it was (and it won't) be made illegal? How about we, as Christians WORK SMART, NOT HARD, and give those with unplanned pregnancies better options, and don't have abortions ourselves??? What about lobbying to make adoption less expensive so we don't HAVE to go to other countries to adopt babies unless we just want to? Let's raise Godly daughters... and be forgiving should they *put the cart before the horse*.

So, how can it be that BOTH candidates claim to be Christian? Because this is a CAMPAIGN with agendas. They are government officials running for public office, not to be a Pastor of the worlds biggest Mega Church. THEY ARE POLITICIANS PEOPLE!! When have you known of a President to do everything he promised to do??? They don't because they can't. They don't wave a magic wand and *make* anything happen. And if they DO get out of hand, we have this nifty little ace-in-the-hole in this country called; IMPEACHMENT.

I guess what gets my goat; is the e-mail about Obama sited the Book of Revelation, using it for validity, but it completely LIED. It said Revelation states the Anti-Christ will be of Muslim decent and around 40 years of age. WHERE??? Where does it state that? It doesn't. It was a bold-faced lie to turn ignorant voters who base their political opinions on forwarded e-mails towards McCain. I might want to mention that Islam wasn't even created until 500 years AFTER Revelation was written,,, Please don't get me started. Say what you want about either candidate, but say it in TRUTH. Lying is a sin. It's one of the big 10. So the author of the original e-mail has some explaining to do.

Now, is McCain the Anti-Christ? The e-mail (forwared) I received says that the names McCain and Palin somehow spell out some biblical code that referrences the book of revelation and thus; The Anti Christ. That is just as awful?? Can you THINK of anything more awful to call anyone??

I'm not fond of McCain, but dog-gone-it, I like Sarah Palin. (tongue-in-cheek) I don't hate Obama. I have issues with them both. But I am not going to spend time slamming them in forwarded e-mails that in my opinion, sink to the LOWEST level one can sink: Lying.

If you want to make a difference in this country, do it at the polls. Why would anyone feel comfortable sending anyone a political e-mail? Ever? Didn't your Mom tell you that you don't discuss politics in company? Why? Because it's a volital issue and until November, it's only gonna get uglier.

I personally am SICK of it. I will do what I consider to be a choice of wisdom: I will visit both websites, review what each candidate stands for.. review Obama's ideas of *change* (all listed on his website), and McCains concept of leadership, and peace promotion. Then, I will pray.

Everytime you get the impulse to send a forwarded e-mail without checking the resources and just assuming the data is correct, SAVE YOURSELF, and just delete it. Then take the time it would have taken you to pull 50 contacts from your address book and review the candidates websites... then take the time you would take for babbling about who is the Anti-Christ with all your church buddies and PRAY.

You will never sway an intelligent soul with a forwarded, low-blow e-mail. It's still a free country, so vote anyway you want, and then do what the Bible says to do: PRAY FOR IT'S LEADERS.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ma & Pa's Words Of Wisdom

I don't know exactly when it happened, and neither does my husband. But one moment we young, indecisive, impulsive, and basically flew by the seat-0f-our-pants, and THOUGHT we had all the answers. Our parents were old and didn't have a clue, and boy were we COOL!
Then one day: POOF! We are middle aged. Our sleek figures have been replaced with bodies who defy explanation. Cool? What's that? My children sucked the cool right out of me. They think *cool* & *Mom* are an oxymoron.
But something magical DID happen... We became rather WISE.
20 years ago, (my how time flies), we were idiots. We couldn't manage money, time, emotions, or relationships. We made mistakes right and left. It was the most painful time of our lives. Every turn was met with potential failure, and we lived paycheck to paycheck. At one point I was just WEARY of life being so hard! I wondered if it would ever get better, and what could possibly change that would make any difference?
While we were younger, we busied ourselves by making mistakes. You name it- We did it. One after another as far as the eye can see... we messed up. We messed up our lives, others lives, and tormented our clueless parents in the process. We tried and failed and tried again. We reinvented ourselves numerous times and tried to raise families in the midst of all this drama. We struggled, and fought authority. We rallied against all that our parents tried to teach us for the sake of our own pride and arrogance.
And then one day, the kids grew up and a few gray hairs appeared. Old addages like: "You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas" started making sense and our hindsight was 20/20. We no longer bounced checks and as time flew, our credit rating improved. Time really did heal all and tomarrow really is another day.
As I sit here in my new-found contentment at age 46, I realize that wisdom is born from pain. Without the agony of our mistakes, we would have never found the right answers. Our children now come to us for answers to thier problems, be it medical, emotional, financial or spiritual. For all appearances, we seem to have our act together and while there still may be mistakes left to be made, they are further and fewer between.
The most wonderful part is knowing that God REALLY does give beauty for ashes. When you take the worst part of your youth and lay it at Gods feet,... when you humble yourself and set your pride on the shelf... when you take your selfish desires out of the picture and replace them with others needs, God rewards you with wisdom. He also gives you second and sometimes third chances to get it right. As time passes, and you bend your will to HIS, he makes a new creation out of the old.
The funny thing is; by the time the process is in full swing; your wondering where the old you is at? What happened and better yet: HOW did it happen? Time waits for noone. God is busy molding you while you were messing up. He used those seemingly impossible times to make a wonderful person, full of wit, wisdom, and an endless amount of old wives tails, idioms, and home remedies. Lock and load baby! Your ready to fire off the answers if someone will only ask! (Oh and they will!) I mean this metaphorically, for the non-resistant *wink*
Now, it's your turn. Your still not cool. But you are wise. Go pass that wisdom on to those who are in the midst of their own youthful drama and just sit and watch. While they make act like they don't hear you... they do. They just don't believe you yet. Give them a few years, and when they get a little gray at the temples, making more wise choices and fewer mistakes, you can take joy in seeing the process repeat itself. It's a generational blessing for those who take time to witness it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Financial Crunch & Merry Christmas

I have been hearing a lot about the impending doom that is about to descend upon this country. Financial institutions may collapse. I'm not sure what that will mean to the working class, if anything, but I am am being as proactive as I can and keeping my thoughts optimistic.

Will my 401K survive? Probably. It's an ebb and flow process that is supposed to ebb and flow. Duh.

So the best we can do is stock up on water, canned food, beans and rice and plan on just waiting this out. Because we don't have a fortune to begin with, I doubt it's going to be that big of a deal to our household.

So, with all that said; Christmas is around the corner and I have been thinking about what my Grandmother who is 92 says: "Recessions are natural. The economy can't just keep getting better and better. " Well, she's been around since before the Great Depression and I guess she should know. Some my happiest times of my life have nothing to do with how much money was in my bank account, and there usually was little to spare.

Which brings me back to: A Homespun Christmas. Are we setting our children up for dissapointement if we can't afford to buy them everything their heart desires? What will the learn and what will they appreciate?

I suggest that we ALL pull together and teach our children about the dangers of excess. Everyone should make some homemade ornaments together with their children. Nothing makes a childs eyes shine like seeing their handi-work on the tree. And nothing is as beautiful.

Take it one step further; Teach your children a craft NOW. Help them make homemade crafts to give family members. Young children can make wonderful macaroni art. Tweens can do leather-crafting. Teenagers can bead and do woodworking.

I'm not suggesting that noone buy their children store bought gifts, but I am suggesting that you empower your child to be ABLE to give from their heart to those they love in a way that is frugal and meaningful. In thier lifetime, they will most likely see another recession. And you have the opportunity to teach them how to make lemonade out of lemons, and rise above the power and influence of the almighty dollar by simply being creative.

Here's how to make bottle cap ornaments;

Here’s what you need:

- cardboard (we used old baking mix and cereal boxes)- glue (Elmers is easier than stick glue)- scissors- bottle caps (if you haven’t saved any, Grape Expectations off of Kilpatrick and 27th sells them in bulk or by the bag)- small beads (we thrifted them. But, PJs has TONS of them)- yarn (easily thrifted)- a hole punch- ribbon

So, what we did was make a template for the tree with our first box and then used it to (roughly) outline the rest of them. I cut all of the trees out (scissors and toddlers are not friends) and the tiny person immediately got on the job of gluing the bottle caps to the trees. Since I wanted to send some of these off for gifts, I decided to give her one tree and a bottle of glue to go to town with, which was an exceptionally messy success and her tree is by far the funkiest and cutest of the bunch.

Also you can use any color bead and spray paint the bottle cap gold or silver... pretty!

After gluing all of the bottle caps down, we proceeded to fill up the caps with white glue, which was totally fun. After that, everyone can jump in to fill the caps with all kinds of cool beads. This also could be very cool with bird seed, rice, pebbles, you get the idea.
Spread the trees out on a flat surface and let them dry overnight.

The next day, if you want (they are totally cute without it), cut enough yarn to outline each tree and then glue it around the edge of the tree for an added accent.
Then, use the hole punch to make a hole in the top of the tree, string a lovely ribbon (or some leftover yarn, twine would be cool too) and voila - the bottle-cap Christmas tree is ready for display on whatever tree for which it is meant.

Friday, October 3, 2008

MOM!!! She's Biting My Toes!!

This is priceless! Hutch, who is 2, is above all; OBEDIANT. I told him 2 weeks ago that he HAS TO BE GENTLE with Minnie Lou.
Here she is nibbling at his toes with those razor sharp puppy-teeth. Notice Hutch looking at me (with my camera of course) like; *Maw, can ya put that contraption down and give a fella a hand???*
Bless his heart. He's such a gentle giant. And did I mention he's obediant? Minnie on the other hand has a lot to learn, but she's catching on. Trust me, Hutch still has toenails left.