Monday, December 28, 2009

A Look At Those Who Go Before Us

In this year 1528, nine brethren and three sisters were apprehended at Bruck, on the Mur, in Steyermark. They were condemned for their faith, and taken in bonds out of the city, to the place of execution; but they were glad and of good cheer, and said, "This day we will suffer in this place for the word of God, and offer to Him our sacrifice." Rom. 12:1; II Tim. 4:6. They also earnestly admonished the lords of Bruck, that they should know that they rendered themselves guilty of innocent blood.
A ring having been formed, they all knelt down (Acts 7:60; 20:36), and earnestly prayed to God; that they might now finish this their evening sacrifice. They then arose and submitted to the sword. The executioner was sad; for he did not like to do it. The youngest of them all entreated his brethren, that, since he felt of good cheer and bold, they should let him suffer the first pain; he then kissed them, and said, "God bless you, my beloved brethren; today we shall all be together in Paradise." Luke 23:43. Thus these nine brethren were beheaded in a green field; they were so undaunted that it was astonishing to behold-it.
They knelt down; and thus poured out their blood through the smiting of the sword. The three sisters were drowned; they would in no wise depart from God and His truth. The youngest one laughed at the water; which was seen by many a one there. Some held that the devil had hardened them; but others were moved in their hearts, so that they confessed that God must have given this, since otherwise it could not be possible. Thus they valiantly testified to the holy and divine truth.
Who of us in this day and age have the boldness to die joyfully in the name of God? I would not wish this for any of my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, but the truth is; It could happen. And to think these people in 1528 were being persecuted for their faith BY people who called themselves Christians! But these martyrs were being accused of doing something unthinkable: They were re-baptizing themselves as adults! This was seen as a crime worthy of death.
Would you joyfully allow someone to behead you for this belief? Or be drowned for this sake? These are the people that paved the way so that you, an adult believer can be baptized without fear of death.

These people were known as *Anabaptists*...which translates into; *twice baptized*.
My intention is to post a bit about these people who died for this privalidge now and then. I love history and I appreciate knowing about their sacrifices. It gives me a feeling of determination in my own faith. It makes me grateful for the freedoms I've always known in my life. It reminds me that my life is not my own, it is Gods, and whatever happens in my life, it should all be to glorify The Lord, even unto death.
May I have the grace to live EVERY moment joyfully for God and God alone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Cozy Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all! I am sitting here feeling the chill in the air, and looking for snow. Yes, it snows in Texas and I believe we are in for a dandy of a winter!

This season, my husband Scott and I choose to keep the Christmas chaos to a minimum and just have a simple holiday. This stemmed from the same thing that has effected us all; The Economy. However, it was probably one of the best choices we've made in a long time.

We kept out decorations to a bit of greenery and a bow here and there. No lights on the house, no wreaths on every window... just a simple candle here and there and a red tablecloth, and cards strung across a string in the kitchen. It's a simple kind of lovely.

Gifts are also limited, but as a result; no last minute rushing about. No traffic to deal with, and no pushy shoppers or check out lines.

For the first time in years, I am completely relaxed and enjoying the simplicity and joy of Christmas!

I have noticed the same with my Mennonite/Amish friends as well. We are all enjoying baking, children, board games, and laughter... all a result of keeping it simple. A Mennonite friend who has a special needs daughter wrote an email that explained her daugher Mary had unwrapped EVERY GIFT they had while Mom was in the basement cleaning. What a laugh we all got, and surely sympathized with her mother, but joy comes in many facets. What fun Mary must have had?!

The snow is beginning to fall... My husband is cutting up a ham... The dogs are all in and being good, thankful that they don't have to be in the cold. Oh, the flakes! If you could see the giant flakes of snow coming down?! It's beautiful. Before long, my birdbath, and the tree branches will be trimmed in white. Tonight we will start a fire in the woodburner... and soak up the warmth, while putting the last minute touches on tomarrows Christmas menu.

My life is good. My friends are many. My joy is abounding all because I appreciate the smallest of things and find contentment in a bit of crocheting, or a wholesome novel. Sometimes, it's my animals that make me laugh out loud with their silliness. A phone call from my children, and grandchildren brighten my day. Just knowing they are all happy brings a smile to my face and a grateful prayer to my lips. All very small, easily overlooked happenings, but if I'm not distracted with too much business, I can clearly see the the small stuff that makes for much contentment.

I am so thankful for this very moment and all the moments that lead up to today. I'm grateful for my friends both here and on the internet who keep me focused on God, and keep me laughing through the year. I am honored that they pray for me and allow me to pray for them.

May you all have a blessed year in 2010, and may God help you overcome adversity, embrace simplicity, and be aware of the joy that comes in the smallest of ways.


Sis Kelly

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Way To Indiana

2009 has been an interesting year, spiritually speaking. I have witnessed many Christians trying on new *hats*, based on how the Holy Spirit leads them. While this isn't anything new to ME, as I have witnessed many friends change spiritual directions. I'm sure my friends would confess the same to me, for those who have known me for years.

I started out as a child who's parents did not actively serve The Lord. I became a Baptist because my neighbors took me with them to church, and because my parents did not. But my Grandmother took me to her Pentecostal Church often, and I think this influenced me greatly. Later on in life, I became a Mennonite, because I found great fellowship with the denomination, and I believe they live The Word to the best of their ability. They are devoted followers of Christ and humble lovers of God. I think I am who I am based on those who helped mold me. That doesn't make anyone else who serves God differently wrong.

As an example: I have friends who started off as Catholics, but later became Mennonite. They served faithfully until they found something that apparently interested them a lot, and became Messianic. They were very much full of zest for the Messanic life, and eventually started keeping the dietary laws, and eating kosher. Last I heard from my old friend, she and her family became Jewish, and have given up any hope of Jesus as her Saviour. She openly denounced Christ as the Son of God.

I have had Baptist friends become Catholic and Penecostal friends become Lutheran. It doesn't matter to me as long as your genuinely serving God. Apparently, from all the arguing I have witnessed this year, I'm in the minority.

I have many friends who have gone down different paths for a myriad of reasons. I do not try to change their mind, or argue the differences. I try to hold steadfast to what I believe and where God has brought me. I try to be a candle on a hill in case my friends loose their way on their journey. I love them all and owe them this as a Sister in Christ. After all, I have chosen a different path myself... so who am I to judge?

Besides, the path they sojourn on isn't wrong... it is simply different. Unless it leads them, and the attention they were giving to God, to rules and restrictions that distract. I'm not here to tell them otherwise.. it isn't my job. Besides, I doubt any would listen, because they are so excited to be doing something interesting and new. What happens when the new wears off? Do they look for something new, or stay steadfast?

The truth is, (based on my experience):
Some go back to the beginning, where they started their journey and start over. Others become stifled and indifferent. Others get humble and seek God on a very child-like level. They are my favorite of all. I believe God can do so much more with a child-like heart than a willful spirit. Some do manage to make the change to a new belief system, and take to it like a duck to water!Regardless of wear the spirital road leads them, they need you to be there for them in prayer.

So, do you know someone who is journeying? Are they hiking the heavenly trails? Is it producing good fruit in their spiritual walk? Good for them. Be a supporter, not a killjoy. Try to understand why they seek this path and what good things our heavenly Father brings to them as a result.
You will see that many people attack those who walk a different path. Anything out of their own version of *normal* must be a slippery slope! Sound familiar? Those who go against the *norm* will get a heap of criticism. We need to be prayer warriors that God keeps them on his path and they don't loose their way.

I had a conversation with a dear Christian friend recently about those who believe differently than I do about things such as: dietary laws, Sabbath Keeping, headcovering, modest dress, and
Titus 2 issues, and numerous side-issues that one could argue if you had the energy.
I am not speaking of people who serve other deities, but of Christians who might put more enphasis in one area, but not so much in another. People who are not a cookie-cutter version of ourselves. People who are of different denominations, and influences.

I asked her what her opinion was of all this? She said: "Sister, there are many roads to Indiana, but there is only ONE Indiana!"

Where are you on your spiritual journey? Has God lead you to practice differently than the rest of your family and friends? Do they criticize your efforts or minimalize them, as if it shouldn't matter?

It seems we all have a spiritual roadmap. A path that we can look back on and see where God has brought us. May God lead you as you walk your own.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Bells

I am so amazed... I am listening to the radio, and I hear a song that was written in 1864... by my GGG-Grand-Uncle, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

My GGG- Grandfather was Stephen Longfellow, Henry's brother, named after their father.

The group singing it is *Casting Crowns*...I'm still in awe as I wonder how this simple message of *PEACE ON EARTH AND GOODWILL TO MEN* has managed to keep resurfacing in a new format. I am resolved to believe the message is eternal and not original to Longfellow. He simply penned it in a way that would make us all stop and remember that God is in control regardless of our circumstances.
Longfellow wrote the poem after several years of hard circumstances. The above picture is of his first wife *Fannie*, and their 2 children. Fannie died after her dress caught fire, and Henry tried in vain to extinguish the flames. He would never be able to shave again, as his hands and were burned so badly trying to help her. Thus the famous beard.
How odd to be connected to such delicate history, no matter how many generations later. How bittersweet to hear the song being sung again, well over a hundred years later.
*And in despair I bowed my head,
"There is no peace on earth", I said
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
Simple church bells inspired such moving words. They echo the message of The Gospel.
May they bless you this day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Joy To The World!

I know we all look through the prism at a different angle. We all have a different perspective and opinion about most things common. I don't think we need to agree about peripheral issues, that do not threaten our salvation or relationship with God. If someone chooses not to celebrateChristmas, I certainly am not going to give them any grief over it.
But don't scorn everyone else who doesn't want to stand arm in arm with you, rallying against Old Saint Nick, Christmas Trees, and the fact that it isn't the REAL birthday of Jesus, not to mention the pagan origins of December 25th. Please avoid spending too much time defending your choice, because the rest of us Christians are having fun and we really don't want our Jesus-Parade rained on.
Just simply ignore the day if that is your choice, because none of this takes away from the fact that my family is taking a special time of the year to be more generous than usual, feed the hungry, help the poor, and celebrate family, food and tradition.
Be happy and content in your choice to ignore the season, knowing that I completely support your choice. See, we aren't supposed to be getting on to each other about what each other celebrates, or eats or drinks. The Bible says so. If you genuinely feel convicted not to celebrate Christmas, then simply don't. It's OK.... and I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise.
However, please reciprocate the same courtesy to me. Obviously, Christmas gets under some peoples skin for various reasons. But at our house, it's a very happy time.
I realize that Christmas has pagan origins, thousands of years ago... but it seems that a few hundred years ago, some thoughtful Christians got the bright idea to turn that pagan tradition into a Christian one, and I am very grateful. I certainly wouldn't be having all this fun if it was STILL a pagan holiday! It's not a sin to do so.. unless your convicted otherwise.
But here's the good news: At The Hunt household, we can all relax and sip our hot cocoa and sing Christmas Carols with no fear that one of our own will be lured into paganism as a result of singing Silent Night, Holy Night, and JOY TO THE WORLD- THE LORD HAS COME!!!
When my children were very young, we did play Santa. This is my only regret... I lied to my kids. But I was young and that was how I was raised. I didn't know any better at the time.
But we also baked a birthday cake for Jesus, and they were all taught the story of Saint Nicolas, who was a real person, and lived such a Godly life, that the *spirit* of Saint Nick lives on in us all when we display our love for one another, and our fellow man. Usually, during Christmas, my children and I found a way to help someone in need. But this act is repeated during the year because we should have a willing heart all year round.

But there is an area of commonality that I do agree with about: Over-indulgence and materialism. It's a crying shame the way people put their focus on spending rather than celebrating Christs birth. I'm not saying gifts to each other aren't appropriate, but the focus has become one of material gain. Can't we as Children Of The King take responsibility and change that?
Christmas hasn't lost it's meaning to Christians, but it is sometimes difficult to find for the non-believer.
If the focus isn't adjusted within the family HOME, the message can get lost in translation. For the lost, Christmas is a time to celebrate things other than Jesus, and Saint Nick becomes an idol, vrs. a witness, and good example. It can easily become a message of *ME ME ME*, and not of looking after our own brothers and sisters in Christ. Eventually, joy gets substituded with greed and stress.
It is up to us as parents and grandparents to teach our own families traditions that reflect selflessness, helping the poor, and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ under our own roofs, within our own walls. The message of Christmas NOW, in the year 2009 should be: *And unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ The Lord.*
Isn't that alone enough to make you celebrate? To take joy, to look around and count your blessings? To reflect on your own salvation? Can't we celebrate the story of Jesus birth?
We CAN be content with having enough and enough to give to others, and the message can be turned around to reflect the greatest gift, that of; eternal life through Jesus as our Savior.
Bless you regardless of what you celebrate. :-)