Monday, April 28, 2008

Who Am I???

John 1:23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

How many times throughout your life have you introduced yourself? But have you ever really thought about what you’re saying? Let me explain by example. Here are how some people in the Bible introduced themselves:

God said, "I AM WHO I AM."

Abraham said, "I am old."

Jacob said, "I am Esau your firstborn."

Moses said, "I am not eloquent."

Gideon said, "I am the least in my father's house."
Ruth said, "I am a foreigner."
Nehemiah said, "I am doing a great work."
Job said, "I am a brother of jackals."
Jesus said, "I am the door, the light, the bread, the Good Shepherd."
Paul said, "I am the chief of sinners."
How would you answer the question, "Who are you?"
When John the Baptist was asked that question, he spoke without hesitation: "I am the voice."
John was not confused and he did not stutter. He knew exactly who he was and what he was called to do. He was "the voice." His calling was to speak—to announce the coming of the kingdom of God and of the Messiah of Israel. It didn't bother John that he wasn't the Messiah. The only thing that would have bothered him was not to speak clearly. John was a satisfied man, confident and content in his knowledge of himself.
Can you say the same about yourself? Take a moment and fill in the blank: "I am ____________________."
Then decide, "How happy am I with my answer?" If you're not sure about either, ask God for His insight.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have been thinking about church etiquette quite a bit – especially since Easter, when I saw things going on in church that were completely inappropriate. Today I found this article by Teddi Neevel and I thought it was just what I was looking for. It may be long ~ but it is worth the time. Tami

Is Etiquette a Thing of the Past?

I have had a couple of requests lately for a source of today's rules of proper conduct in public. Ie: Church, concert, play, etc. As I began searching on the internet I assumed this would be easy to find, however, I was wrong. There is very little about proper etiquette available today.

Then I began thinking about the rules I was taught as a child, the rules we taught our children, the annoying things that I have witnessed recently, and also the delights of being around well behaved children. I also began talking with other adults, taking my own informal survey about conduct that they witness that either offends, irritates, or conversely pleases them.
As a result of those talks I decided to take a written survey that was composed of 25 questions, some pertaining to public situations, some private small groups, others table etiquette, and a couple of general background information questions. Imagine my surprise when I tallied the results and found that some of the things that are the most annoying to me don't bother some other people at all! This caused me to re-think my standards of etiquette.
In the process of my research I found a book titled "You Can Raise a Well-Mannered Child” by Julie Hines Moore, which is published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN. Although Mrs. Moore does not quote KJV scripture in her book anyone who prefers the KJV (like I do) can look the verses up in their own Bible.

Mrs. Moore has done an exceptional job of discussing most areas of etiquette and manners. In her book she breaks conduct down into age appropriateness and also looks at the various basic personality types and how the personality affects the child's ability to learn correct behavior.
There is no point in my attempting to re-write a well-written book; therefore I'm going to only address the areas of respect and public conduct. "Etiquette rules are of the head. Manners are of the heart. Together they are a shield against embarrassment." June Hines Moore. I personally love that quote. Etiquette is the rules of interpersonal conduct just as laws govern all other areas of societal conduct. Manners on the other hand are the heart determination to follow the rules because we recognize their value. We are always more comfortable socially when we know the rules.

Sadly, many Christian people have fallen into the habits and thinking of society as a whole. The idea that I can do what I want whenever I want has spilled out of the "If it feels Good Do It" and "I'm OK, You're OK" philosophies of several years ago. While many of society's standards have changed, others have not. The President is still referred to deferentially, a judge, a senator, a member of the House of Representatives, a superior officer in the military, a doctor, and usually one's employer is awarded respect by their title, by standing in their presence, by saluting, etc. God's standard of respect...of honour...of courtesy has not changed.

Let's take a look at a few of the common happenings in church today and see if we can make them fit within God's standard.

Honour toward the Lord. It saddens me to see the number of people who never bother to participate in any congregational activity, who appear bored by the preaching and are focused on their watches. To all intents and purposes, their greatest desire seems to be to get out of the church and be done with their exercise of religion.

Psalm 29:1-2 "Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."
John 5:23 “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him."
Respect for the Word of God. To recognize the Bible as having the answers to all of life's questions requires that we actually open the cover and read the words. Yet many people not only never bring a Bible to church with them or don't bother to open the Bible if they have brought it along. I have never seen a church lost and found table that doesn't have several Bibles sitting on it. When a scripture is announced we should turn to it and read the Word of God.

2Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

Honour the Pastor. This is an area of neglect that often lies at the feet of the preacher. Some preachers insist they be called by their first name in an attempt to be a friend of the members. Sometimes it is the fault of adults who believe themselves to be equals of the pastor. Sometimes it is smart aleck kids defying formalities. Personally, while I may introduce my pastor as Bro. Harper, when I speak to him I call him Pastor.

1Timothy 5:17 "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."

Hebrews 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

Respect for the church building, aka the house of God as opposed to uncontrolled children, failing to pickup behind ourselves, and wasting supplies. Service after service, week after week, someone walks through the sanctuary and picks up candy and gum wrappers, bulletins, offering envelopes, and scraps of paper that have been written on and left lying behind, in order for the building g to be neat for the next service. We do not worship the church building but we should respect the property as belonging to God. God has established the church as being a place we can gather to praise and worship, a place where we can serve Him. Wise stewardship includes caring for the church property with discretion. Abusing hymnals, pew Bibles, pews, and wasting printed materials all add un-necessary cost to the church budget.

Ezekiel 5:11 "Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity."

Respect for one another. Have you noticed that is common for some church attenders to visit with someone seated nearby during special music, Scripture reading, and the offering? Children routinely sit through cartoons on television, video movies, ball games and school classes but have to leave to use the restroom or get a drink during a one hour church service. I realize that there are occasions when a physical condition may cause someone to need to leave a service during the preaching; however it is my belief that most of the time when people leave and return it is Satan causing a distraction. The point is the individual performing the music has prepared...they have practiced...and to do other than listen to them is rude.
It insults the performer and disturbs those around them who choose to listen. Likewise, the pastor has prayed about the message that God would have him deliver. He has studied and prepared. The pastor preaches the message with heart-felt concern for the eternal destiny of souls. His desire is for the Holy Spirit to bring life-changing conviction to the individuals in the congregation. Then babies begin to fuss, older children parade in and out, candy, gum and notes are passed. I wonder how large the stack of wood, hay, and stubble for judgment day's bonfire is by the time the final "Amen" is said on Sunday. I believe allowing these disruptions of the church service will have lasting effects in eternity. The rules of etiquette...courtesy enable those around us to worship, listen and grow spiritually.
Romans 12:10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"

Romans 13:7 - 10 "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Who then is responsible? The responsibility for raising well-mannered children is the parent's. God mandated that parents should train their children. This would be an overwhelming task if it were a curriculum to be taught but God further tells parents they are to teach by example. Just telling children what to do and how to behave, would be frustrating but we are to walk the walk. Even very young children will mimic the adults they love. Unfortunately they pick up the annoying things from their parents too.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

It has been my experience that well-mannered children are a delight to be around. Children who are taught etiquette develop a self-confidence that carries them into adulthood. They have doors opened to them in education, the job market, and among their peers.

Luke 2:52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."

Leviticus 19:32 "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD."

Proverbs 11:16 "A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches."

I must admit there are several things that are thought provoking. I'll mention them here for each of us to ponder.

Dressing up for a job interview, a date or a wedding but wearing play or work clothes to attend Church. Who deserves the greater respect, man or God?

Buying tickets for a Christian concert or play, and then allowing members of your group to traipse in and out during the performance. Not only aren't you getting your monies worth, but you are also cheating everyone around you that you disturb.

Being first in the pew so you can grab the aisle seat, so everyone else has to climb over you.

The never-ending race to be first out of the building or the parking lot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Only in North Dakota

Yesterday my children played outside all afternoon in beautiful 73 degree sunshine. By the time we headed to church last night the wind had picked up and the clouds had rolled in. That lasted a couple of hours and then cleared up ~ allowing the kids to head off outside for a game of hide-n-seek in the dark, before heading to bed.
Fast forward about 4 hours ~ everyone is sleeping. The winds picks up, the thunder is booming, and the hail (although small, still hail) is hitting our roof. Once the hail stopped it poured down rain for about an hour.
Fast forward about 3 more hours ~ I get up to do my devotions. I start the coffee, open the blinds, and what do I see????? SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, there is snow on my deck and it is now 30 degrees.
See what a day can bring forth in North Dakota?!?!?!?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
And in North Dakota you can see all those seasons in a 24 hour period!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Two Cutest Babies In The World

OK - so maybe I'm a little biased ~ but aren't these two just the cutest little guys?!?!?!? Tristan (the blue jean baby) is my adorable nephew. Then there is Braden sitting next to him. Braden is my grandson (the light of my life.) I was truly blessed this winter to have these two precious boys brought into my life within 6 weeks of each other. Braden was born Dec. 5th and Tristan followed on Jan. 21st.

Doesn't that smile just make you melt?!?!?!? And, believe it or not, he's like that from the time he wakes up until the time he falls asleep. You can't help but smile back at him. I have turned him into a Grandma's boy, too.

I have always heard how being a Grandparent is so special - but those feelings just can't be put into words. Jeff and I just beam the moment he is brought into the room.
I was sitting here today thinking about this. Growing up I was my Granddad's pride and joy. And the feeling was very mutual. He meant the world to me. I loved him so much. I remember being 18 years old and still seeing my Granddad's eyes light up when I showed up. Now I think I know what he felt because that I how I feel every time I see Braden. My heart just swells. I am so thankful for the relationship I had with my Granddad ~ and am even more thankful to be able to pass that kind of relationship on with my Grandson.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear God,

Today, but I complain to you about my life ~
Help me think of someone who went too early to Heaven.

Before I complain about my children ~
Help me to think of someone who desires a child but they’re barren.

Before I fret about the dirty house someone didn’t help clean or sweep ~
Help me to think of the people who are living on the streets.

Before I whine about the distance I drive to work each day ~
Help me to think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

When I am tired and complain about my work ~
Help me to think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had a job.

Before I point the finger or condemn another ~
Help me remember that not one of us is without sin or blemish and we all answer to one MAKER.

And Father, when depressing thoughts try to get me down ~
Radiant your love on my face so that I may take a moment to thank you for all that you have blessed in my life.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Not the Day I Expected

I’m not sure what happened today. I went to Minot (115 miles away) for the day and something hit me as we were driving past the old radar station. I saw the house that used to be ours when we lived on Minot AFB. It was just sitting there – empty. And then the tears started flowing down my face....because tomorrow is Steven’s birthday....and we watched him grow up in that house – and now that house is empty and Steven is in Heaven.

So, here I sit, in the bathtub of all places, still crying. It’s been 9 years since Steven died, so why is this birthday so hard? Is it because he would be 21 and I have no idea what kind of a man he would be now? Is it because we went to Minot – the place he was born and raised – just before his birthday and now I’m flooded with memories? Or is it something more? I don’t know. I know that I miss him more right now more than I have in a LONG, LONG time.

I know everything happens for a reason. I really am not usually a cry baby, but for some reason this birthday hurts so much more than the last few. There’s this part of me that just wants to hug him one more time, to see him one more time, to say “I Love You” one more time.

And so I remind myself ~ we aren’t promised “one more time.” We are promised now and we need to make the most of every moment while we can. So, I can say this ~ I hug my children more, I make sure to tell them I love them more, and I thnak God for each and every moment I am blessed with them in my life. In other words, I have learned to Cherish The Moment.

Happy Birthday, Steven ~~ Mommy Loves You!!