Saturday, November 13, 2010

Galatians 2

1 Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 I went up because of a revelation and presented to them the gospel I preach among the Gentiles—but privately to those recognized [as leaders]—so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.

So the venerable Paul, with his impeccable creds and 14 years of tremendous impact in the world, obediently goes to Jerusalem and presents the gospel he was preaching to make sure it matched the One True Gospel. Amazing that after that much time and abuse he was still humble and walking in a "teachable spirit" (not confident in his own experience and ability and track record) to seek confirmation of his message. He was still examining what he did to ensure its veracity. He was not doing the thing with "his eyes shut" or "by heart". I might, by then, lean a bit on my flesh...

Galatians 1

10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God ? Or am I striving to please men ? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Father, please help me focus all my efforts to please on You and not man nor woman nor some ideal I have. Help me be Yours all the way.

One thing which strikes me so much in this passage and almost everything Paul writes is his urgency and intensity. Paul does not appear to have an "off-the-clock" moment; he is always working for God and is keenly aware of that fact. He does not seem to have any spiritual coffee breaks where he lets up on his spiritual ardor that he may relax a bit. He is always a believer and always an evangelist~and this always impacts his life.

I prepare and experience/participate in Bible study, prayer, worship; but when I sit down to read a book, I don't "prepare". If I go shopping, I don't prepare for that as I would a fellowship. Why do I behave as if I get breaks from my believing/evangelizing lifestyle or as if it's more relevant in the context of a specific activity? It's not even a matter of whether or not I pray before a thing, because most times I's something beyond that. Almost as if I had a job being a believer; but I can kind of clock-out when I watch a movie or go out to eat or ... not that I am watching bad stuff or behaving inappropriately... I mean my belief informs my choices, it determines what I see and do and where I's goes farther than that. I guess what I am saying is maybe I am not passionate for God all the time. Yeah, that feels like the problem. Am I alone in this? Lord, I know I am not supposed to compare to others; but in reading Galatians 1, I am stilled by the fervency I see in the words. Would you please stir in me that passion, free me to care that much? Help me not to go off the clock when I am not precisely engaged in You and Your Word. Transform my life.

Acts 14

2But the unbelieving Jews [who rejected their message] aroused the Gentiles and embittered their minds against the brethren.

3So [Paul and Barnabas] stayed on there for a long time, speaking freely and fearlessly and boldly in the Lord, Who continued to bear testimony to the Word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be performed by their hands.

The unbelievers stirred up trouble and spoke against Paul and Barnabas. Things were not comfortable; maybe even tense. Pressure was being applied and bad things were being said about them and their response was to "stay on there for a long time" and continue speaking freely in the Lord Who evidenced their authority in Him through signs and wonders. Would I have considered the opposition and the growing unrest as a "sign" that it was time to move on? Would I have persevered in the work of the Word despite the animosity of the religious and locals? Would I have considered the great numbers that had come to the Lord to be enough and to get while the going was good? Thank You God for giving me Your heart for others and Your tenacity to see a thing through. Help me to look to You for direction and not only consider the lay of the land. Help me to stay on for a long time in Your freedom despite the harshness of a situation.

Another thing which I keep thinking about is how they stayed a long time in Iconium and then they stayed no small amount of time in Antioch, when Paul was left for dead, he went back to the city and then continued on. But everywhere they went it seems they stayed as long (emphasis on long) as they needed to stay to accomplish the mission. They were not concerned with getting back to Antioch by a certain date. They did not appear to rush through any part of their travels. Even when the soon-to-be-healed man was listening, Paul looked intently...he wasn't in a hurry to get the message out and get on to his next point or place. He wasn't on tour...he was on mission. They had an agenda not a schedule. In the busyness of my little life, do I act with generosity with regard to the time the LORD has given me. Do I allow the urgent to over-rule the mission? Do I do a thorough job when God calls me to do something just for Him, or am I inclined to rush through it because I live like I am on tour? Am I living simply enough to be ready for the call of mission?

God of Time and Eternity, You know what a mess I am; but You have plans for me, just the same. Please give me Your perspective from on High as I consider the day You give me. Let my plans match Yours, let my time-frame be overlaid by Yours, let my interrupts be sanctioned by You and let me overlook the emergencies which are not mine, let me have wisdom with the moments You give that the hours and days and life would reflect glory increasing to You. Be famous in my life today.

Acts 13:2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

At first the believers-community devoted themselves to the teaching, fellowship, breaking bread/eating together and prayer. I am sure they are still doing that; but this seems to be a community extension of their prayer-lives. An emphasis on prayer and fasting is showing up. It looks like one, it was a normal event; two, they engaged in prayer & fasting when they were waiting before the LORD and prior to ministry being undertaken.

Simply and quickly, I am always waiting for the LORD, ergo waiting before the LORD as I seek Him for the answer. And as I am a believer I am engaged in ministry in my life. So, I am challenged to be more intentional about prayer and fasting; this week I am doing something about it.

Acts 13

verse 3 (So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way), I am encouraged to continue in the worship; don't quit after a word is received. Certainly receive and believe it; but to continue in the prayer, fasting and worship until the Holy Spirit dismisses. I know God has no afterthoughts; yet some things must be received before others can be. Reminds me of a little shop on a the lake in Tennessee which lets folks "pull" their own soft-serve ice cream. One little fellow couldn't reach the lever and had a taller friend do the pulling while he just held his cup up. He saw, with huge eyes, the dollup of ice cream and ran off with it, squealing with excitement..."Look what I got!". The thing is, the taller friend had continued to pull the lever and the ice cream kept coming...with no cone to receive it. Father, I want to cooperate with You in my life. Please don't let me have an interrupt in my time of worship and prayer and fasting with you, You know how easily I distract. Help me to be constant and in position to receive the fullness of your Word, blessing, answer and direction. I come to You with my cup up and empty. Please fill it to Your glory and lead me in Your paths that I may honor You with my joyful compliance.

Acts 12

Acts 12:1 About that time King Herod cruelly attacked, afflicted, oppressed and tormented some who belonged to the church, 2 and he killed James, John's brother, with the sword. 3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread... Then [Herod] went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed on there.20Now [Herod] cherished bitter animosity and hostility for the people of Tyre and Sidon; and [their deputies] came to him in a united body, and having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was nourished by and depended on the king's [country] for food. 21On an appointed day Herod arrayed himself in his royal robes, took his seat upon [his] throne, and addressed an oration to them. 22And the assembled people shouted, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man! 23And at once an angel of the Lord smote him and cut him down, because he did not give God the glory (the preeminence and kingly majesty that belong to Him as the supreme Ruler); and he was eaten by worms and died. 24But the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] continued to grow and spread.

***(Side comment, why does the ugly often rear its head during the days of the Feasts? I'm thinking the enemy gets awfully stirred up when it comes to the Holy Days on the calendar. Another bad & discouraging thing tied to the Passover...obviously, the enemy doesn't want us to remember what happened on the Passover when God changed the course of humanity's destiny during that 3-day weekend.)***

***(Another side comment, funny how Herod runs from Judea to Caesarea to stay there. He does this right after they can't find Believer Peter. He just viciously attacks the Believers in town and goes to a town which now has some fully functioning Gentile Believers...I wonder if he met up with any of them while he was there.)***

So, back to what spoke to me. When Herod saw that what he did gave pleasure to the Jews he continued in his cruel assault. He was pleased to please people. Next we see him giving royal audience to people he cherished bitter animosity and hostility for (the people of Tyre and Sidon). He was a hater, it seems. But why would he array himself, take up his throne and "address an oration" to them? He did not like them. However, they praised him and he received it. He took it in for himself. And he died.

Holy Father, help me not be so addicted to the verdicts of men and the praise of people that I live in response to their words and faces (emails and texts). Help me to array myself for You, the Royal and Majestic, Only King of the Universe. Let my words praise You and any words which come my way, may I turn them to You for Your Honor and Glory...not mine. My Creator, help me to not be insecure. You are God in Heaven and I am here on earth. Let my words be few. Thank You Sovereign God that Acts 12:24 happened. I praise Your powerful and all-wise Name that man's plans, schemes, pride, bondage, and lack of understanding cannot and will not stop the appointed spread of Your Name and Your message to the fame of Your Name.

Acts 11 addendum

Some friends offered their responses to Acts 11 and I responded to their their thoughts caused me to really ponder a thing or two...To Friend D, I love your insight that Peter didn't know what was going to happen. That to me is a breathtaking part of the wonderful adventure with God. (Given, sometimes my breath is taken away and sometimes I'm just holding it) I never really know exactly what He is going to do or how He will do it. (Kind of like a roller-coaster in the dark)
To Other Friend D, I echo your words that it does feel like a mountain of granite being impacted with a little, bitty tool, often (the granite mountain and the small screwdriver were pictures of the monumental degree of difficulty and the personal implementation of Friend D's kingdom work). In fact I have been thinking about both of your comments and wondering what would be the difference.

One thing which occurs to me is, that when Peter was sharing, the Gospel was new and it fell on ears and hearts that had not yet heard it. They had not had a chance to harden their hearts to it. Here in America, most folks have some experience with the Bible and likely with Jesus or more specifically with rejecting. I wonder if us privileged Americans have had too much opportunity at the Gift of grace and just hardened our hearts like granite. So when we share seeds of hope and faith from our life's experiences and The Word; it falls on generationally hard and unreceptive soil. Maybe because of the abundant grace of God in this country of freedom, most everyone now has expectations about God, Jesus, Christians, the Bible...most are not from a good example of personal experience with the One True God; rather they stem from the terrible warning many of His "agents" have become or from the devil's "double-agents".

I wonder if Americans have satisfied their spiritual appetites with NASCAR-praying and country-music lyrics which thank God and nod at Jesus. Have our countrymen too long accepted that God Bless America is good enough and likely all that is needed? Has America drunk so wildly at the bar-of-many-ways-to-Heaven that we never noticed it didn't taste too good or satisfy for long?

Have we, as believers ever displayed our true thirst for the Living Water to the world around us for more than a few seconds or perhaps a long and uncomfortable minute? Do we live a life which demonstrates the soulish-satisfaction of a spiritually-well-nourished believer? Sure, we snack on religious chips and relics with bumper stickers, tee-shirts and little rubber bracelets touting John 3:16; but do we seek context and examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith? Have we allowed our hearts to be broken consistently out of concern for the eternal security of others. What does break our hearts on a consistent basis? Why does Starbucks get more face time that Bible study? I just wonder how often do we really share the faith we say we treasure and would die for. I know that I can be in the Word and "prayed up" and pumped up and ready to do some battle for the Lord; but have I gone in that same moment to ask a stranger or family member if they knew for certain that they would have Heaven as their permanent mailing address when they left this life? no. And if I don't go then, when everything is primed for a spiritual encounter (sadly, I think what I mean is when I am in the mood to conduct some spiritual business), when then will I go? If I don't open my mouth when I have all the words ready, how will it ever open? Really, where is my concern? Am I listening to the Father's direction in whatever way He chooses to speak to me and going where He says. Really? Often times I just go about my day as usual not even checking with Him to say "Where?" or "Whom?". I guess I figure I'll just trip over them or they will ask me about the things of God. I say I want to be effective and useful to God; but how do I put that into practice? If I were to describe some of the disciples we have been reading about to my neighbors, would they think those descriptions reminded them of someone they knew? I get that God doesn't need another Peter because He already had him when and where He wanted Him. But He has a Tami here and now ...

I think it's harder here because we are harder. In and out of the Church.

Maybe it's just me and maybe I am a broken tool in God's hand; but I can't see how that matters...HE.IS.GOD.

God, please help me. I don't want to let another soul slip by in life's stream of mediocrity and tolerance. Help me hear You and help me obey for the expansion of Your Kingdom and the praise of Your Great Name.

sorry, I didn't mean to preach or even say more than a couple of lines. like I said, this has been on me for awhile. thanks again for your insights. they have risen up and challenged me.

Acts 11

26...For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Previously, I think they had been called Followers of the Way. But it doesn't matter what they were called as they were obviously having "church" ~ the Holy Spirit moving, salvation,21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. The fact that they hadn't been "Christian" before this didn't seem to affect the work of the Holy Spirit. This reminds me that it doesn't matter what you are called or not called; salvation is of the Lord. If the Spirit is moving and saving and people are repenting and believing then their religion-label doesn't matter. Believers are believers. Flavor doesn't matter to God ~ why do we make it a hill to die on? It can be The Big Fat Greek Church or the First Church in Antioch, O'Sullivan's Tavern's Gathering or The Discipletarians; God knows us by name and that's probably how He addresses us...not Presbyterian # 3071 or Baptist #4952308. And to that I am thankful; for if God were to call me names rather than call me by name...and shouldn't we focus on the name and not the names (or the look, smell, personality, politics, ...) too? And this reminds me that even as they became known as a particular group, it was being made of Gentiles and Jews and Cypriots & ... it was Whose they were which defined them not their heritage.

18...“We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” Praise You Jesus for the PRIVILEGE of repenting of my sins and receiving eternal life. May I never view it any differently than a pure privilege, a gift from God. May we never fail to share this privilege with other Gentiles like ourselves...and even quite a few Jews. {Romans 11: 25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters,so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.}

Acts 10

Acts 10:4    And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! My prayers are received as an offering.  God pays attention to the prayers for more than the content.    Revelation 5:8  And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.   Psalm 141:2  May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.  Obedience has a cost and usually an inconvenience.  Holy Father, please give me grace to view Your opportunity in the midst of uncertainty, let me obey and be grateful for the cost and inconvenience I am privileged to steward for Your great Name's sake.  If it's a cost I can pay, it is only because of Your supply.  If it's an inconvenience I can sacrifice, then it has been Your gift to me for that time.  Thank You for letting me in on Your adventure.
45And the believers from among the circumcised [the Jews] who came with Peter were surprised and amazed, because the free gift of the Holy Spirit had been bestowed and poured out largely even on the Gentiles.
  King of the Universe, please let me be amazed and surprised by You because of You and not because I am jealous, narrow-minded, and selfish.  Allow me to delight in Your great and generous works for others and with others, never failing to be grateful for Your tender attentions to my estate and for the unique ways You deal with each of Your unique children.  I love Your freedom.

Acts 9

I often wonder how did  Paul first approach those believers after the destruction he had pursued.  How many tears and apologies, how much grace would he have received from the grieving families, how much he would have to give to those who weren't quite ready to forgive?  And still, he was known by his actions.  The echo of 'faith without works is dead' ringing in my ears.  Saul's actions and Paul's actions testify to his reputation which was a picture of what he believed. 

One thing that strikes me not in this passage is what did Saul do with the dangerous letters he carried?  He was traveling, had a Jesus-interrupt and restarted on a different track. Suddenly, his assignment and his authority shifted from temple-authority to Divine-authority.  So his permission slips end up being contraband.   Did he destroy them?  Did he give them to Judas?  Ananias?  I know the means of getting rid of them don't matter and where they ended up isn't important either; but I wonder when did he lay down that link to his new past?  And Ananias greets Saul as "Brother Saul" when "Mr. Saul" probably would have sufficed; he assumed the best about Saul and didn't hedge with the welcoming term.  Ananias discarded his prejudice and fear somewhere between God's orders and his obedience. 

So, I am challenged to examine myself and make sure I am not only cutting the ties with the old life; but I am properly and promptly disposing of the spiritually bio-hazardous materials and reactions.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your interrupts in my life.  Holy Spirit, please help me to graciously obey Your direction and to dump the spiritually-toxic matter from my life and thoughts.  I give You permission to do what You please with me.  Your way is right and I can do all the things You have for me to do by Your strength.  Thank You for caring about me.

Acts 8

 I am amazed that part of the method God used in the propagation of the Gospel was the scattering of the believers. Acts 8: 4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.  Remember what the Jews were really good at?  Being scattered and still being Jews. Exiled and still Jewish.  Diaspora and still Jewish.  They were generationally trained to keep their identity and beliefs in apathetic, unfamiliar and dangerous places.   They were so qualified for this portion of the assignment.  I so appreciate that He let this part of their history be redeemed in HIS-story.

Acts 8 causes me to consider the specific view and the wide-angle view.  I am struck by one man, Saul,  who has watched the coats of the witnesses of  the elite priesthood's freak-out and brutal killing of a man from their "court".  Saul  is now noticed to be agreeing heartily with Stephen's murder and  then begins to ravage the church and believers in his house-to-house assault.  The wide-spread persecution which breaks out and the scattering of the believers throughout the different regions occur in conjunction with these moments from the life of Saul.  And all of this takes place or begins on that one day.  This seems like such a chaotic scenario and to focus on one person makes me curious about that one person's place in this day.  I wonder what happened with Saul in that day of Stephen's stoning, what decisions did he make, what response did he offer in the face of the crazy, hateful murdering.  Was he undecided about Jesus before that day and this was the day he made his choice?  Was there something about this day that ushered him into the early role he played on the stage of Jesus' gospel. 

We focus again on the crowds being wowed with Philip's ministry in one of the most undesirable places a good Jewish man would go, Samaria.  Crowds....Philip.  The needs were huge and Philip was only one person.  Then Philip was sent to meet the traveling man.  Philip, (whose name means "horse lover") gets to "go and join" the chariot (most likely drawn by horses, God is so fun). He climbs up alongside the man then explains the scripture, preaches Jesus and answers his questions.  Philip must have told him about baptism for the man asks to be baptized in the water they just happen to come across on this desert road.  Then Philip is gone.  I wonder what the traveler's stories were about his trip. [If I may take a tangent for a second, Philip's role reminds me of a picture of the Holy Spirit...going to heal and comfort the hated and afflicted masses, then coming alongside one who is being drawn to God's Word, offering illumination of His Majesty and baptism, equipping the man for his journey...  That's how God uses us, too.  Because we are the "skin" (like the skin on your i-pod) on the Holy Spirit.  His work, our obedience, His glory, our life.]

Finally, Simon, a wizard in Samaria, who just wanted to be someone great.  He works to be considered someone great and does amazing things to convince the people he is worthy of being considered someone great. However, we see Simon amazed when he witnesses God through Philip at work.  He knew the tricks as he was a master of the tricks; but he probably hadn't been amazed in a long time.

So, in the crowds three have been singled out.   Three that have work they are passionate about performing and seem to be very diligent and hardworking.  What has struck me is that each of these made a decision to devote themselves to their work.  And it appears to me that the decisions were ones had not necessarily expected to make.

Saul was passionate for God and the law.  His training would have had him close to the religiosity.  Life in front of him became very wild; but he was not a part of that particular event. 
So Saul was witness to the stoning and he chose to give his approval.  And later in the day he began his destructive period. 

Simon also was trying so hard to be great.  One day, he meets Philip who has The Great and Amazing Spirit of God living within him.  Simon seems to have chosen the works of greatness over the Great God.  Just a choice on a regular day.

Philip chose to go to Samaria, probably not his preferred choice.  They were scattering and I considered that to be like our hurricane evacuation.  When we have had to "scatter" we have always gone to familiar territory, or even to friends or family.  I have yet to scatter to an undesirable place where I would not likely be welcomed.  To make a comparable,
emergency-evac choice, I would have to choose to go to the heart of a Muslim-only area.  And, that would not be my own choice.  Next, in the midst of some good work and excellent results, he chooses to go to “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza” and join himself to a chariot of a stranger. Okay, he was safe in the north country with some blessed ministry going on.  Now, he has to go back down south on the desert road (not too safe...reference the Good Samaritan story) which connects the northern city of Jerusalem (umm, the place he left in a hurry) to the more southern Gaza and hook up with some chariot.  He chose to go.  He didn't ask "which chariot, which stranger?", "will You keep me safe?", or "can You confirm this for me?".  He choose to go.  Just a simple decision to obey God and not common sense or even man's ministry-economics.

So all of this, (sorry for the length), I see that each one decides or reacts based on the course their life was taking.  They were not placed in those events by accident; God's sovereign hand had them  present where they were and when they were for those opportunities.  Each had set their hearts on what was important to them.  Each acted based on their hearts' settings.  Saul for the religious law, Simon to be someone great (or maybe just to be "someone"), Philip to obey despite the situation.  Each saw the opportunity of something.  Only Philip had his defined by God.  Saul thought his was; but he didn't check. Simon seemed to want to be a god.

 And for me, I need to recognize that:

1.  Anything in my day or night may be a defining moment of decision because God has placed me in this place at this time with these people and opportunities (sometimes disguised as oppression or opposition) for His reason and His glory.  My choices must begin with what brings Him glory, what obeys His leading.

2.  My heart's setting needs to be daily tuned to God's frequency and not my loud and garish self or to what the world defines as valid and smart.  God's setting is dynamic and not digital.  I can't just set it and forget about it.  I must daily (at least) choose to seek and  select His signal over any other.

3.  I must operate not from the inspiration of the law nor from the desire to be made much of ; but from a place which desires to yield to the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and my life.  He must be my inspiration, His Name must be my motto, His fame must be my goal.

4.  To reiterate a theme that resonates with me in these readings, I can see opportunity or opposition or oppression...but what if today is the bravest, most courageous, most obedient thing God has for me in my life?  All I have to do is today.

James 5

James 5 :1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted ; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure ! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure ; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

These verses speak to me a bit more recently than in years past.  The withheld pay cries out against the employer.  I shudder to consider the employer’s future.   I was up and typing this at three this morning; but as I finished and hit send, my internet connection was lost and so was my email.  It spoke to mercy I hope God gives the past employers in our lives rather than letting this serious judgment stand.  I think (I tried hard for a while to reconnect, re-submit, re-do and nothing would work…so I went to bed) my Precious Father God wanted me to receive His words that those unpaid debts to us are not overlooked by Him…even when we forgive and ask for mercy for the offenders.  He takes His children and their work very seriously, and consequently, their wages.  How much He loves us to allow us the chance to know Him better in those difficult times and still hold the offenders accountable.  How much He loves the offenders to not let them get away with sinning.  What a strong statement against the rich employers.  THE  Lord of Sabaoth is on this detail and He's a Warrior.  YIKES.  Thank You Sweet Lord for looking out for Your children.  Help me to live for Heaven’s luxury and Your pleasure.  

13 Is anyone among you suffering ? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful ? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick ? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord ; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  

A dear friend of mine has been contending with great physical pain.  She called for the leaders of the church to pray over her and she received a great relief of pain for several days.  In the midst of that rebuke of suffering, she was mystified to discover she had a gift of tremendous peace.  My friend has struggled to experience peace for as long as I have known her.  The request was for physical healing; the answer was a healing deeper than the elders knew to seek.  Praise God for His inscrutable ways.  Now, there is a cherry-on-top-of-the-cake for this, too.  Another healing she received (and another  they did not seek) was the breaking of a 50-year tyranny of cigarettes.  This has been a struggle both physical and spiritual  for as long as I have known her, also.  But only in the requested prayer, offered in faith was she restored.  I suppose the Only Wise God has better plans for her original cause for prayer ~the pain~ than a mere healing would accomplish.  But this encourages me that patient waiting and righteous requesting are acknowledged by my God.  He knows better than I do regarding my request, He does act in tenderness towards me.  I won’t always get the answers I seek; but I always have an audience with the King.  He encourages me with faithful praying and enduring contentment in the wait for an answer.  And He’s on His way back even as I type.   Sovereign Lord, please teach me Your ways so that my contentment in the wait would be unwearied and uncomplaining and that I would be in place to receive Your deep healing.   You know best, You choose best and You do best.  Have Your way with me, again.

James 4

8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world...Humble yourselves before the LORD....  I just have to come close to God, I have to incline myself towards Him...I don't have to reach Him, I don't have to feel like I am close...I just have to come words tell me what to do to close the gap (on my part) between me and God versus me and the world...for when I am unwashed and un-purified I am more separated from God and more aligned with the world.  To come close I must wash and purify and humble myself....and God will come close to me, a sinner.  Thank you God for giving me a way to come close to You.  And to keep me from drawing close to the world.  I want to draw near to You, please teach me the dailyness of the ways to wash and purify and humble myself in order to draw nearer and nearer to You.  And thank You that You would even want me to draw near to You.

NLT: James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

Amplified: verse 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.

'Nuff said.  Dear God, Please help me.

I came across the following verses in some other reading I was doing and was struck by their resonance with James.  The works of the folks show that they are denying God, despite their words, and that we are to do good work in order to display the wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God we have.  Actions speak louder than words.

Titus 1:15-16 15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

Titus 2:7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.
12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,

James 3

Verses 1-12 challenge me with the power of the tongue and the effect of speaking.  And it is not just the spoken word for us in this day; we have other means of communicating with words and these admonitions address that for me.  When I can text or email as easily as I can use my tongue, through the wisdom that comes from above I must be very careful to not set on fire the course of my life or my day with any wrong word usage. Body language and sign language are also potent tools for communicating love and acceptance, hatred and disgrace.  Grace and constancy through my God.  Word and deed as evidence of my relationship with Yahweh.
16For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

Disorder is an indicator of  jealousy and selfish ambition (which in themselves are evil and vile practices).  When I am in the midst of chaos, I should seek, with the Father's wisdom to align myself with His way...desiring to make His Name famous in my life rather than my own (or my own preference).

Lord God, I am seeing with increasing clarity that if my actions, words, communications and lifestyle don't match my faith-confession then maybe the confession is not valid.  My life is my confession.  Let me not emulate the ancient Greek philosophers who thought it was enough to think a thing without troubling themselves to do the thing.  Let my life speak the faith I inwardly claim.  Let my life sing Your praise and worship Your Majesty in the constancy only a dailyness and yieldedness Your Presence can supply.

James 2

Screen Door song inspired by James 2....Rich of my favorites!  enjoy!     with fun percussion      clearer song/lyrics

I love tea.   You probably don't care about that fact.  But if I said I love tea and you never saw me drink it, you might wonder.  If I insisted that I love tea and turned it down every chance I had, you might wonder if I was a liar.  If you saw that my cupboards had no tea on them...doubt would definitely arise as to the veracity of my words.  I would wonder, too. 

However, I thank my Perfect Creator for tea, I cook with tea (boil chicken in lemon tea, jasmine tea with rice, ...), I drink tea, I brew tea, I ice tea, I share tea, I encourage tea, I give tea, I buy tea, I freeze tea, I even wear tea (splashing happens),  I love tea.  Not a day goes by without tea, and usually it's tea all day long.  Pastor Troy's words,“ Righteous people do righteous things, but the righteous things that we do, do not make us righteous”, made me think of this.  The fact that I am a tea-person is demonstrated by my "activitieas".  But all of my "activitieas" do not and never will make me tea or a tea-lover.  God made me a tea-lover.  He gives me "opportuniteas" (this is fun) for tea; but no matter what I do and how much I do it, I am not the "activitea", "ministrea" nor the tea.    And as James 2:17 says, "So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless."  My belief that I love tea is a waste, a corpse of words and time if I do not live that to the fullest of my "abilitea".  My God faith/belief is evidenced by my public displays of affection for God, my private encounters with my Savior, my obedience to the Holy Word, my yieldedness to His authority, my interactive and ongoing relationship with the LORD of the Universe who knows my name. My works show where my heart is; what I treasure; but they are not the treasure.

Another thing that came to me is that when I claim to be a tea-lover but I do all the activities I mentioned with okra and not tea...that really does mean I am not a tea-lover.  I love okra.  That's like the unrighteous things (okra=evil) we do. Again, the work is the evidence of the heart's truest desire.  Joining this with the last line of James 1, "to keep oneself unstained/from being polluted by the world", we must say "no" to okra.  In order to have that pure and undefiled religion and only by God's "undiminishable" grace can we be kept from the stinking filth of the world which stains us and impacts the works we do...lest they be evil or just wasted (wood, hay, and stubble).

Lord, help me to never let time, leisure, comfort, organization, opportunity, oppression, fear, laziness, selfishness, the tyranny of the urgent or anything else  to divorce my faith from my (good) works.    God, I don't want a trial separation, either.  Help me to choose the good works You have for me to do that they might be the signs of life, the heartbeat or respirations of my faith in You and Your Word. Give me discipline and wisdom (I'm asking and believing that You are giving generously to me without finding fault) to keep me from being stained by the world.  I do want my religious expression to be my life, I want that expression to be pure and un-debased in order that the results of the expression may be good and well-done, according to You.

Acts 7

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)--Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God." 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us." 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.Acts 7: 1 Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?"

To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran... (accurate history of the Jews)
... 51 "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him-- 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
 54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 6:14:  the charge was that "this Jesus of Nazareth will come and destroy this place".  I thought they thought He was dead and gone.  Curious how they would choose to have this accusation brought as a credible charge against Stephen.  Just speaks to me that there is power in the Name of Jesus...even the disbelievers and haters recognized that.

They ask if the charges are true.  Yes or no.  But Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom, looking like an angel (what does that mean?) answers them with a tremendous discourse on the history of God and the Jews. As he spoke, I bet some were nodding in agreement.  Stephen concludes with an indictment of their past and a question...but basically, more truth.   Now the elite gathered there had a rather visceral response to his words.  Instead of defending themselves, ruling him out of order for his comments or even continuing their hearing, they "were furious and gnashed their teeth at him...they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him."  What in the world? From the formal Sanhedrin.  Imagine someone who was not in on the order of the day, just a visitor to the area.  What a display!

Truth can do that.  The Truth Project (amazing small group study from Focus on the Family) reminds us of the "cosmic battle" between Truth and deception/lies. The challenge for me is am I ready to encounter a blast of hell when I speak Truth?  Am I prepared...
full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom, looking like an wield the Truth and receive the counter-assault?  Or to counter an attack of deception with the Truth.  I can ask for a filling of the precious Holy Spirit & wisdom (James 1, how cool that that is next!),faith from the Word of God (Romans 10).  Maybe looking like an angel refers to having been in the presence of God (or letting His presence shine forth from my countenance).  But, am I equipping myself daily for such situations?  We are foolish to think the world has become more accepting of this Jesus of Nazareth.  Praise be to God that the Name is not ever diminished by time, neglect, use or abuse.  He is glorious in power and might and strength and majesty and presence as He ever was or will be.  But the blast of hell still has us in its sights. And am I able to forgive those the enemy uses as graciously and immediately as Stephen did?  Am I able to in the face of personal loss, pain and suffering, discomfort, illness, bad mood, busyness, whatever to see the lie that I shouldn't or can't forgive such actions.  Cosmic battles are held in our homes and lives everyday.

Acts 3-4

Regarding Acts 3:4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[a] get up and[b] walk!”
 7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

Pete and Johnny saw a need, they supplied the need and in verse 7 they physically touched the needy and walked with him.  the healing and ability came "as he (Pete) did (take the man ...and helped him up).  Ministry is more than just throwing money, your endorsement or your ability at a situation.  It is reaching out, grabbing hold and walking a ways with the person.  Christian community is not an "online endeavor"; it will be personal and physical and we may get run into/over by the opportunities as they get up, walk and leap around in freedom.  But that's how we get to be witnesses with actually seeing the thing play out "In the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene."

Lord, please give me eyes to look intently, generosity to give what I have, strength to reach out and help another up and the heart to walk on with those You bring my way (or is it that You brought me their way?).  Please let me do all in Your Name and for Your Name...Jesus Christ.

Regarding Acts 4:24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—,,,29And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. 32 All the believers were united in heart and mind.

In response to the threats of the powers that be, ALL the Believers prayed for God to remove the threat?  for God to keep them safe?  for God to raise up believers within the Jewish priesthood or for more workers for the Harvest? for God to continue to work for His glory while they kept their heads down so they could just pray for others to embrace the opportunity?  for God to confirm His will in the matter?  Nope, they simply prayed for boldness for themselves.  They did not try to crawl off the altar of living sacrifice, they did not even wiggle around by trying to network their underground relationships to help influence the religiosity; they simply prayed for boldness for themselves.  Their mission did not change with the circumstances and they realized that the Name of Jesus did not weakened  in the face of the the very real threats.  They did not have their leaders pray for them; all the believers prayed in unity. 

Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit and preached God's Word with boldness.  No boldness training, no seminar, no sermon series to screw up their courage; they just preached God's Word with boldness.

And in verse 32, after the adversity, the prayers, the filling, the response comes this little line that is so compelling to me.  Again, it is ALL the Believers were united in heart and mind.  They had worked and prayed and obeyed in tandem (they had even been devoted to the teachings and sharing what they had amongst each other from chapter 2); yet only now are they described as being united in their emotions, priorities, logic and will.  

The thing that is crescendo-ing in my soul is they knew the mission; when hard times came, they did not rethink, reorganize or regroup.  They all cried out to God for boldness for the mission and they continued the mission.  Now, in light of my life and the circumstances in which I (still) find myself and our family; why have I not been this committed to the mission, why have I not asked for boldness?  God's Word is replete with histories of people who had some circumstances, some issues, some enduring problems and when they took the Sovereign LORD of the Universe at His Word, there was triumph, healing, rescue. 

The question I keep hearing is, "What if this is the most dangerous thing God calls me to do?"  Am I really living the way that I want to live through this?  Is this the testimony I want to give my God about what He entrusted to me?  Do I want to be a wimpy, namby-pamby believer who  cowers at the prospect of discomfort or loss of leisure?  Really?  Really?  Sure, Stephen had his stones, Abe had his long wait, Paul had his...well...ordeals, Daniel had his lions; but me...well, somehow that's different because...why?  There is no answer for least no good answer.  Not on this side of Heaven's gates nor on the other.  Either I lift my eyes to the mountains or I don't.  But when I lift my eyes to the mountains and ask where does my help and courage come from?  I know it comes from the only One with any help or courage or strength or power in this life or any other.  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  

Lord, I receive Your help and courage and boldness to go on in what You have for me today...that's all I need...just for today.

Acts 1-2

Our precious Dr. Luke has written his books Luke and Acts to Theophilus...which means "friend of God".  That's us. (John 15:15) He wrote to us, personally.  I am tickled every time I see his greeting to "the most excellent Theophilus."  Maybe you will be, too.  From, one theophilus to another  =+}

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Opportunity of Hitting and Throwing (fits)

A sweet friend of mine asked a few years back for any
 common-momma experience on how to grow a child in
 the way he should go when he was wanting to bend 
the wrong way.  This was the answer to that question. 
 I was just reviewing some of the finer points with some
 of the minors in my here you go.....

PRAYER, PRAYER, Prayer, and did I mention 
Get your microderm abrasion and exfoliating equipment
 out because your knees are gonna get some callouses.
 Encourage your little one to join you in praying for
 right choice.  God is our Might Ally and the Holy Spirit
 is our Super-Life Coach.  God's words can be used right
 from the page to help pray the right desires in us and 
our children.   

Please know, that I do not think I have done this thing called
 parenting right nor am I anywhere close to being done with it
 (my momma assures me there is no being done).  As I see some
 of my friends, who are still parenting their adult children
 who have children themselves, begin a time of parenting their
 parents I think I understand her comment.  Isn't is wonderful
 that the Sovereign LORD of All Creation, Omnipotent, Omniscient,
 Omnipresent and more would choose to reveal Himself to us a
 Father.  How tender His love for us is; but it is a firm love, too.  

Okay, back to your question.  For what this is worth, coming from
 this goofball, here are some of my experiences/observations and
 anecdotes. Continue at your own risk.  When I asked my own children
 if I should offer our experiences on this subject two of them 
said, "  UUUUHHHHH,  sure ?   ".  When pressed, my second-born 
male said, "Restrictions, taking away privileges, time out.
  Definitely not the Spanking Spoon.  Definitely not that.
  Anything; but that."  Methinks he protesteth too much.

In addition to prayer (prayer is always the first, best position
 both offensively and defensively) I would mention the Vulcan
 nerve pinch.  Really.  I think Dr. Dobson calls it something
 else; but when my boys began to jump the fence at Tantrum-City,
 that little technique worked very well.  A modest amount of
 discomfort to help their minds to get off of the thing
 (the trouble) that is possessing them.  The "hold" does not
 damage their little bodies or leave marks, it does not twist
 something into an unnatural state, (like all those poor children
 whose ears are permanently disfigured and flapping due to parents
 well-meaning and desperate interactions),  it does not hurt after
 you quit applying the modicum of pressure needed.  When my children
 were spiraling down into the despair of a fit, I found this maneuver
 to be a very easy and unobtrusive way to grab their attention.

Another thing, perhaps in addition to or instead of - each case works
 itself out one way or another, is to take the child's arms and wrap
 them gently around his/her body and hug them from behind while keeping
 the arms secured (tenderly, but with enough of a hold to keep from being
 struck - we are much stronger than these precious ones, so we do need to
 take care of the strength applied).

One last thing that I can recall, is to give the little one a designated
 "hittable" - something they can beat the stuffing out of; a pillow or
 stuffed critter or something which does not resemble anyone.  Perhaps
 this would be a good time to introduce baseball and a net to your darling.
  Give the energy a place to go and the ball can be thrown as hard 
as he/she can.  The net will take it and the physical activity helps express the child's
 feelings in a safe way by expending energy in a positive manner.  Also,
 this is skill-building and will help the child to have a sense of
 accomplishment.  Who knows, maybe you will end up with a very talented
 baseball player.  I would begin talks about the wrong use of steroids
 now, too.  If you don't have a portable hittable, then take a notebook
 along to record the homework.  Make sure you note the situation and ask
 how many times he/she would like to strike the hittable for this circumstance.
  I bet by the time you get home, the hits won't be very hard or sincere.
  The notebook serves as a way for them to express themselves and helps
 them hold it until later.  Make sure to throw away the paper with the
 record on it with your child; closure helps.

In conjunction with the authorized hittable item, I have been known
 to let my precious, little, God-bestowed darling get hit back.  I
 did not make this a habit; but when the ugly was just too frequent,
 I would instruct the sibling to hit back (while I stood there).  I
 kept this for a extreme measures, since I did not want to communicate
 that this was an okay reaction.  Most times, I had to really encourage
 the other to hit - since they had been so recently wounded they seemed
 to be a bit reticent to apply ugly back.

Sometimes, it is beneficial to look for patterns.  Does the child have
 difficulty with a particular person, situation, time-frame or other
 element?   It is okay to remove your child from situations which he
 is not mature enough to handle; but do practice how to conduct oneself
 in difficult situations.  It has been my experience that bad situations
 and prickly people do not go away, they usually have friends in many
 other places. Perhaps your wee one reacts adversely after a particular
 food, drink or candy.  I am always testy after someone gives me sweet tea.
  Encourage the little one to use words before the actions, "I feel so
 awful that I want to spew this tea across the room" helps me.  But 
of course, the tea is dribbling down my chin by that time and I have
 nothing left to spit.  Anyway, enough about me.

Rewards work well, too.  Document on the calendar when your sweet one
 has gone one day or two or a week  without the errant behavior.  Make
 a deal with him/her to have a treat or sticker or something special
 for the good choices.  We have used stars on a poster board for daily
 measures, bigger stickers for week long behavior and glittery stickers
 for 10-14 day measurements.  Calling a grandparent or other tender
 friend to brag on their accomplishments is helpful, too. Try to pick
 one that will pray for/with your sweetheart, too.  Accountability is
 worthwhile at a young age.

Please know before I continue with the Weapon of Mass-Temper Destruction,
 I never wanted to be a spanking mom.  (I was spanked growing-up (probably
 not nearly as frequently as I deserved) and it was useful to discourage
 my  undesirable behavior - I am not nor have I ever been pictured in the
 post-office.) But since I did not get any perfect children (that story
 has been told in the New Testament) and I am definitely not a perfect
 anything but a mess - well, maybe I even don't do that 100 % - I leaned
 on the teaching which worked from my childhood. So, with that typed, I
 guess I should confess my aforementioned, lastest and bestest secret weapon.
  The Spanking Spoon - a humble, wooden spoon from the kitchen.  My children
 were very aware of the tool we carried around with us from a very young
 age - so much so, that for awhile, it was referred to as the
 'Panking 'Poon - blended consonants were not yet in our vocabulary.
  We did apply at home and consistently.  
Do not apply if you are angry, rather chew on the narrow end until you can maintain.
  Then just a bit of stinging swat on the God-given, well-padded
 bottom hurts the feelings and the bottom sufficiently that usually the
 threat/presence of the spoon is enough in a short time to come.  Explain
 what and why you are doing this with the spoon.  Do not guerrilla spoon
 the child.  The result of the proper use of the SPOON was that there
 was a respect for the spoon in public and private settings.  It's amazing
 the reactions you get when you point out the "spanking spoons" available
 in everyday life.  One of my first and favorite examples to my darlings
 was to show them the large, wooden pizza server from our local Italian
 eatery. My children have never acted up there - even to this day.  What
 is fun is when they start to point the 'spanking spoons' out to each other.
  For a fun time, take a trip to a kitchen supply store.  Silence has never
 been so hysterical.

One thing we (my man and I) made sure to do with as many discipline issues
 that we could was to supply "The Lecture" as the punctuation of the event.
  This is usually long enough for the children to lose whatever fight 
they had in them.  But in the talking time we would point out what God has
 to say about disobedience, dishonoring parents, tempers, anger, slander,
 malice, etc.
  One of the Bible stories our children all received was where Moses lost
 the privilege to enter the Promised Land because of the rock hitting.  Psalms
 and Proverbs are excellent for encouragement, wisdom and words for praying.
  Balaam and his donkey (regarding the hitting) is funny with very good
 principles. This was always the sweetest time, the opportunity to lovingly
 and quietly plant God's word in the hearts of our babies in very real,
 relevant and applicable ways.  We would close the "session" in prayer
 and hugs.  Many times the whole "lecture" was during a hug.

I am praying for wisdom, creativity and teachable hearts for your 
family on this.  I will also pray for your little man to have an 
extra measure of self-control and for his relationship with his 
soon-coming sibling.  That was a long two years in our home; but 
that is another email entirely.  Be encouraged, you are not alone 
and this season passes on to another. 

Oh, by the way, sometimes this era ushers in an era of sassy-ness.
  I have a great recipe for  "Bad-Mouth Potion" that still holds a
 place of honor in our family.  Let me know if you are interested.
My children assure  me that your son would not want to know about that, either.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A friend put out to the email family seeking some advice/experienced info on camping. I did not plan to preach; I just started a little answer to her inquiry. It was all spontaneous and therefore, I do apologize for the type-o's (how do you spell that word, anyway?!?!?!) that are present.
>My precious friend. Camping? Wouldn't you rather get head lice for your whole family? I mean, at least you can stay inside for few days - in the AIR CONDITIONING and still be together. When you have bad hair days, you can blame the treatment. When you react to the treatment, you can run to the drugstore for Benadryl and still feel like you've been eaten by a swarm of blood-thirsty bugs intent on making your wholesome family time a feast for their entire legion.
>By the way, can we talk bathrooms at these camp-ish places. First of all, let me say prayer and fasting is a must, that way you won't need to go. Our sweet and all-wise Father God kicked us out of Eden for a really good reason. Do you really want to go and try to recreate all that nature stuff? Think about it, dear one. The only two perfect people couldn't handle it. I mean, sin has had it's way for thousands of years. I'm pretty sure the enemy headquarters in KOAs. And what happens when someone eats of the wrong tree or bush or can? Whoops, I am back to the bathroom situation. Have you ever wonder why they call it evacuate?
>Oh, yeah. Food. You, the Momma, must make a list, check it neurotically, misplace it thrice and then go to shop for the food, pack up the food, pack up utensils and plates and serving things and soap and snacks and bug spray and foot spray and non-stick stuff and don't forget the s'mores stuff and the indigestion pills and the Advil. Have you ever had poison ivy? Better bring stuff for that too. Don't forget the measuring spoons for the littlest ones that don't take pills yet and then remember the oral meds for them. Just in case. ‘Cause you know that the nearest pharmacy, cell phone tower or person not wearing flannel everything is way too far away right when you need help.
>Then there's the towels, the tub things, the flip-flops, the toilet paper, the trash bags, the trash cans, (raccoons do love a field trip in their part of the woods. And baby, where ever your trash/food/stuff is, is their part of the woods).
>Oh, can we talk sleep. Not that you'll get any; but the little ones do love to be cozy, then cool, where's their own pillow and he's touching me and ... perhaps I digress. The right jammies are a must for the children or maybe nude is better. Or both depending on the time of night and the temperature. Doesn't matter, they will never have a consensus about the temperature so.... bring it all or not.
>Weather is God's pleasure, and man still can't guess very accurately for the day much less to help you prepare for a season of set apartness in the wilderness. Again, prayer and fasting may help. Especially, when you can't get the fire started to cook your food. Just plan on a spiritual retreat. You'll feel better organized that way.
>Right now, just throw your camera in the river. It will make you feel better when it's gone without all those great pictures you managed to take while erecting the tents. It will save your marriage relationship when Honey decides he needs to record his bride in the wilderness for posterity sake. Just a little preparation can take the headache out of this situation right here. Big toss, there you go.
>No matter what the nature people say, wasps do sting in the wild and they hold grudges. If they were there first, yield the campsite. Same for skunks, except I am not sure they bite. I never stayed long enough to find out. One other personal observation, if someone gets sprayed by skunks; make sure everyone does. It is just more miserable having someone not as nasty as you get to be. And no one likes a party-pooper; especially if he doesn't smell like one when everyone else does!! I think you know what I mean here.
>Toothbrushes. Mouthwash. And sharing a multi-seater potty. Who's idea of a great morning is this? Oh yeah, have you ever heard of anyone sleeping in while camping? Me, either. Dawn cracks early.
>Since I can't seem to go too long without returning to the bathroom issue; maybe I ought to get just real honest and share my most recent tent camping experience - 20 years ago. My honey thought camping would be a great weekend. I was young and in love,(AKA STUPIDER THAN anyone has a right to be), so I said sure!! Well maybe not two exclamation marks; but I did agree to go. I prepared my last will and testament, contacted my next of kin, said goodbye to my sweet dog, and we departed.
>So, I didn't die. I didn't starve. Like I said, prayer and fasting. I slept okay. Lots of people snore in the wild. You can hear most of them when you can't sleep. I considered recording the noise for posterity – ‘cause no one would believe me - but I couldn't figure out the necessary disclaimers. Anyway, I slept. I got a bit cocky. Most of the trip was over and I was doing well. I actually had not used the bathroom since we left the day before and I figured maybe, perhaps, yes, I could do the thing. I grabbed my stash of toileting necessities and with purpose in my heart, a large outhouse in view and a constant chant of "I think I can, I think I can" reverberating in my mind, I set off. The aroma was much as I expected. I figured, if I held my breath, I could run in and before I collapsed, (oh heaven forbid collapsing in such a place in such a state, I still shutter with that thought), I could achieve the my goal and leave. I was totally bargaining with myself at this point. I felt I would be satisfied with the points I would earn for just attempting the task. Right? Isn’t that what we tell our children when we potty train them. Just try. That's all I wanted to do.
>So, I entered the dark and musty potty palace. Okay. Lots of ladies. They came in groups. There was a method. Sorry, I didn't have a potty buddy to bring. I entered the next doorway and ... did I mention how prepared I was? I had the toilet paper, the moist towellettes for the hands, the seat cover, bug spray, extra set of seat covers in case the first wasn't sufficient - you never know, do you? So, as I am continuing to psyche myself up for this thing, (I probably was chanting out loud, too), I notice that the bugs are quite a bit worse in here. So I, being the very prepared and organized and eco-friendly person that I am with my ecologically-sensitive bug killer (what is that really about, anyway?) I sprayed a shot down the hole. A long shot of ecologically-sensitive bug killer went down that hole. Guess what happened. Bugs did not appreciate that at all. They unified quicker than girlfriends in the clearance aisle. I have to tell you, I have a deeper understanding of what making a bee-line for the exit means. You see, the bugs in the hole, the big, long hole that serviced all the other holes in the women's area of the campground toilet facility all decided to evacuate at once. There were only six exits available to them. Most of which were covered by other ladies who were a bit earlier to the pot. I have to say, that to this day, I don't think any of them – neither bugs nor ladies - know what really happened. Suffice it to say, ladies and bugs evacuated very quickly that morning. Some of them never even got their britches back up.
>I evaluated the situation, which was a bit easier for me - I still had my clothes on. I decided that I stood one very good chance of evacuation myself. I choose the door after I left the (bug killer) can in the can. Who would have thought?
>So, maybe that's where some of my issues come from. However, let it not be said that I left you with a negative slant on camping. We did go camping this past summer in the mountains of TN. Loved it. My good friend took us with her family; they are big campers. Actually, they have a big camper, or an RV actually, wall-to-wall carpet, central AC, microwave, oven, posh bathroom (not a toileting facility) with shower and sun-roof, two TVs, and a pantry and a fridge, two queens size bed and a double bed. This place is a home away from home for it is parked there. Plus, they have a buddy who is a chef at the local eatery, .... Now that is camping; but not really. It is vacationing.
>By the way, I don't think those bugs thought that ecologically-sensitive spray made one bit of difference to them. So save your money if you're going buy a can. But, let me tell you, head lice does have it upsides. And s'mores are available as a cereal and pop tarts. So who can say what is good. Actually, I can. Only God is good and He kicked us out of the garden for a very good reason. We cannot be trusted in there. But I guess if you do go, Dr. Phil and some of those other talk shows do need guests to discombobulate. Consider it a ministry in talkshow job security. What a gift to give to the nations.
>I'm praying for ya, girl.