Saturday, July 29, 2006

God in the Dock

I'm going to be re-reading C.S. Lewis' book of this title over the next few days. Thoughts on it to follow in a few days....

Just finished reading Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. Interesting, funny, and also sad because he seems to have been a person who knew God existed and even believed in living a moral life, but he thought he could do this on his own. He devised a multi-step system of becoming morally pure and sinless, all on his own strength. He does not seem to have believed in a personal relationship with the Lord, repentance, atonement, etc. And yet he was so intelligent, creative, hard-working, and persistent. After reading his auto-bio I felt more sad than anything.

I'm also reading an anthology of Civil War poetry. Thoughts on that later....

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I just realized that I never wrote about our trip to Gettysburg. It was awe-inspiring to say the least. If you have never gone there I cannot recommend it highly enough. Before we went our 7-year-old son declared that he thought it would just be a huge field and a bunch of monuments. Well...there are huge fields and there certainly are a LOT of monuments, but he changed his tune after we went.

The first thing we did was to go to the Electric Map in the Visitors' Center. This is an electronic light and sound experience which lasts about 1/2 hour. It explains the battle completely from start to finish, including dimming the lights for the night-time and having little reddish-orange lights on the map for the campfires of each army. There is also a nice little museum area that we all enjoyed. We then went to the memorial in the cemetary which commemorates Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Our son wanted to take all the pennies that people had left there...We didn't let him.

Once we had a good handle on how the battle progressed we went on the auto-tour, a self-guided drive around the entire battle area. We stopped at many monuments, took pictures, went up two observation towers, and got out at Little Round Top. I also did a panoramic picture of the fields which the Confederate troops had to cross in "Pickett's Charge," coming into direct fire from Federal troops.

Having recently read "The Killer Angels," about the battle, I had a keen interest in going there and seeing the lay of the land for myself. It was an amazing day. We all learned so much from the different displays--whoever has done the work of setting it all up has really excelled.

Enjoy seems a weird word to use to describe how we felt that day. It was an enjoyable day, learning together as a family, but I think we had more of a sense of awe, of respect for the dead, of amazement at the sheer numbers of men who died on those fields. It was arguably the most important battle in the history of our country, and as such deserves to be studied and remembered. Each side wholeheartedly believed that they were fighting for what was right. Men were willing to die to stand up for their beliefs. Even brother fought brother (the Culp brothers are one example--they have their own display case in the museum there) and friend fought friend. The bloodshed was almost incomprehensible, the numbers are staggering. It's easy now, in hindsight, to see what the various generals did wrong, what they could have done instead, and how things might have gone differently at Gettysburg. But it seems that these men did the best they knew how.

How willing are we to die for our beliefs? And how much more important are our beliefs about the Lord than beliefs about government/states' rights/economy/etc.? In the spiritual battles of life do we stand our ground? Do we press on in the face of seemingly unconquerable odds, obeying our Master's commands? Just thinking about it all....

What is a church?

I've been reading David Garrison's "Church Planting Movements' and highly recommend it for any Christian anywhere. It offers a definition, explanation, and case studies of church planting movements. The gist of it is this--people are getting saved and the Church is growing in countries overseas in an exponential fashion, but there is a huge difference between what we consider a church here in the U.S. and what is considered a church in these other countries. In the U.S. when we speak of church we often are thinking of a building or of a particular group of people who have been together for years, doing everything "the way we've always done it." My friend and brother-in-Christ Alan has been exploring these issues for a while now on his blog (see link on my site.) In many other countries a church consists of a house church of 15-20 people studying God's Word together and discipling one another. When the group gets too big to meet in the house, a few of them start another house church. This intentional multiplication builds the body of Christ at an amazing rate. The believers invite non-believers to the group with them to study God's Word, showing them how the process of evenglism and discipleship works before they are even saved! They do not stop to plan/fundraise/argue about a big building. They do not set up committees for every aspect of church life. They do not pay a pastor. They have multiple leadership chosen from among the men in the group. And then they intentionally split in order to grow the church. They model their churches after the New Testament church.

Compare this approach to the un-intentional splits that happen all too often in our churches here: arguing over who gets the building, gossipping about the "other side," dishonoring the Lord's name through actions and words, and most tragically--tearing down the body of Christ, causing non-believers to want to run as far and as fast as they can from "the church."

Oh, that the church in this country would emulate these church planting movements! Oh, that we would be willing to not sit in comfy pews or padded chairs being entertained by a polished, talented praise team. (OKAY--all you people who like the whole praise team approach--BACK OFF!!! I'm just saying that we are too comfortable in our churches,,,) All of these things keep swirling around in my mind: how can I promote a change in this country? how can I support church planting movements worldwide? How can I develop personal relationships with non-believers so that I can share the gospel with them?

Anyone else struggling with these things?

Update from Northern NY

So here we are at my parents house in East Pitcairn, NY. We have been relaxing and just enjoying being with my Mom and Dad. We also painted their house last week. Actually, my husband did most of the work. I did just enough to feel like I had helped out.

I have been unable to blog much from up here because for some reason every time I try to go on my blog (except this time and one other previously) the Blogger site tells me that my dad's computers cookies and Javascript are not enabled. But wait--they are enabled! I did nothing different this time except breathe a quick prayer--"Lord, please let me get on and update my blog..."

We are getting more and more excited about moving overseas and going for the training required of us. We really need people's prayers as we prepare spiritually for the days ahead.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

1100 miles later...

Just a quick "update" post. We traveled 700 miles on Thursday from Savannah, GA to Chambersburg, PA. Friday we went to Gettysburg--I think I'll write extensively on that later--then drove another 420 miles on Saturday to finally arrive at my parents' house in northern NY. Exhausted but happy to be here.

More in a day or two...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Okay, this acceptable?

Okay, so this is the general layout that I had before but without the overall PINK look. Blue is my favorite color, so I think I may stick with this look.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Faithful God...

So what did I learn over the past week? I learned that when God promises to take care of us, He is not kidding. I learned that He is my rock and refuge when I am lonely and sad. I have always thought of God's promise in Malachi 3:10 as referring only to financial matters, but I'm beginning to see it in other terms, as well. Yes, yes, I know that it is technically a promise to Israel and not to me personally, but I believe it shows God's character and His care for all who trust in Him. I Peter 3:9, after telling us in verse 8 how to live Christ-like lives, tells us that "you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."
What are these blessings and how I have seen them manifested in my life?
1. My salvation is a blessing, a gift from God.
2. The Holy Spirit in me--the comforter and counselor.
3. My wonderful, loving, kind, caring husband. What a blessing to be married to my very best friend, and still laugh together after so long.
4. My three children, who have handled this move very well so far.
5. My church family at Messiah, whom I miss dreadfully, and who still support and encourage us. Just knowing that I can pick up the phone and call them (like I did to Alan and Margaret last night) and cry on the phone, helps.
6. The wonderful people we have met at the churches we have visited here.
7. HERE'S A BIG ONE: A 9-year-old boy, whom we have known since he was born, Evan, gave us a beautiful "book" he made with pictures of himself and his sister in it, as well as some flower seeds. As I was looking at it and admiring his work, he said, "There's something under the seed packet." When I peeled back the tape, there was a $100 bill under there. I immediately assumed that his parents had given it to him to give us. BUT NO... It was his birthday money that he had just received the week before--he wanted to bless us with it. How amazing is that? How many kids his age do you know who would give away that kind of money? I pray that God will continue to bless him and his family as he grows in the Lord. (That money is already coming in handy, as we have no health insurance right now, and our daughter needed antibiotic yesterday.)

How amazing and wonderful is our heavenly Father. His blessings are too many to count. Praise His name.

Frantic week...

A summary of our past week:
Monday the 3rd--shopping all day with mother-in-law and girls. My mother-in-law is the best in the world, and a more generous person is hard to find. She has blessed us (God blessed us through her) by providing new much-needed clothing items for the girls.
Tuesday the 4th--Parade in the small town where we used to live. (Rincon, GA) Hanging out all day at sister-and-brother-in-law's house, playing with their almost-four-month-old.
Wednesday the 5th--Beach in the morning. Dinner cruise on the Georgia River Queen in the evening to celebrate our 15th anniversary. It was wonderful.
Thursday the 6th--Prepare all day for a yard sale.
Friday the 7th--Our friends, the Adams, came down from Augusta for a short visit to Savannah. The few precious hours we were together were so sweet. Once again, I long for heaven.
Saturday the 8th--YARD SALE. Sold whatever remained of our un-needed wordly goods. Met with some dear friends, the Hartzogs, for lunch. I'll post more about that....
Sunday the 9th--Woodlawn Baptist Church in the a.m. Then our second child got sick, (strep) so only my husband went to Rothwell Baptist Church in the evening.
Today--recovery from a busy week.....

The new look...

Just for my young friend, Jeremy, I've adopted a new look for the blog with which he may be more familiar....We'll see how long I let it stay like this.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The thread that binds us...sehnsucht?

Okay, so, I'm really getting into this blogging thing. I hate writing things by hand in a journal because my brain is faster than my hands, but typing is another story. I have found my niche!

We have just about recovered from the days of moving, and are looking forward to some fun this week. On Wednesday my husband and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage by going on a dinner cruise on the Savannah River on a paddleboat. I may post some pictures from that one.

Today we returned to a church that we attended from 1996-2000. Having not been there in six years, we were unsure of the response/reaction we would get from the people there. We were encouraged, however, to see that brothers and sisters in Christ have a connection that never goes away. To feel immediately re-connected is such an amazing thing. The people opened their arms and hearts to us, embracing us both literally and figuratively....How many times did we hear "Let me hug your neck"... too many to count. With typical Southern charm and hospitality they welcomed us, showing us that the ties that bind us are very real. Our mutual love for the Lord and desire to glorify Him brings us together. I have experienced this many times before, but today's instance was much-needed, as we were extremely sad not to be at our home church, Messiah Baptist. It was overwhelming.

Any time I have an experience like this, it makes me long for heaven. It seems to me to be just a shadowy glimpse of what our unity will be there as we worship God Almighty together. Our hearts will be joined in a single purpose, and our love for one another here on earth will be overshadowed by our love for the Lord. Is this feeling what C.S. Lewis called sehnsucht?