Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Ten Things I Love About My Church

A few weeks ago, I listened politely as a friend listed her complaints against the church my husband and I attend. It wasn't the first time I had heard someone raise concerns about something they didn't agree with or didn't suit their own personal preferences, so as I listened, I prayed, as I have learned to do for this person and their struggle and for the Lord to make it clear to them why the situation is as it is. Since that conversation, I have been thinking over our journey to our home church and how thankful I am that God has planted us in this body of believers. Experience has taught me that no one particular church is going to adequately or fully reflect the true Body of Christ (until we are all together in Heaven!). It is a sad truth that we spend a lot of time tearing down other churches and denominations because they don't fit our personal tastes. I, myself, have my own biases and prejudices against other believers and it is something I very much want the Lord to change in me. But, we also need to remind ourselves that the Lord does plant us in our church bodies intentionally.

In light of that, I want to post ten things I love about my own church. Not as a defense, but as a testimony of the power of God at work in my own life.

1. I love that we study through the Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. It is orderly and thorough and easy to follow. There is always more to learn!
2. I love that our pastor is clearly called by God as a teacher and is gifted with wisdom and knowledge. He doesn't try to be everything to everyone, but to be what God made him to be--our pastor-teacher.
3. I love that we have sent so many people into the mission field from our body. It is beautiful to see our mission bulletin board filled with pictures of others serving the Lord.
4. I love that our children are not given just "basic" Biblical facts but are given the entire Word of God in a form they are able to comprehend and respond to. We have seen so much fruit from our Children's Church!
5. I love that our worship is simple but relevant. Our worship leaders aren't performing music, but ministering to the heart of God. No one stands out on the worship team, but everyone blends into one voice, helping us all to remember to focus on the Lord, not the music.
6. I love the way our church weathers storms. When others have attempted to undermine the authority of our church leadership or have grumbled and complained in an effort to affect change, I always see the leaders of our church on their knees in prayer before dealing with the situation. And, they deal with problems Biblically, rather than in a committee or by a vote.
7. I love that we love people. Our body has loved on the homeless, the imprisoned, drug addicts, alcoholics, victims of violence, the divorced, the bankrupt, the confused, the scared, the unbelieving. I love that there is always room for someone who is searching, even when they may not know Who they are searching for.
8. I love our radio station. Though it is only a low-watt station and only serves our community, it has been life-changing for me. When our oldest was a baby, the radio programs I listened to throughout the day changed my attitude and heart. Our radio station has reached deep into the lives of many in our community and shared Christ.
9. I love our bookstore. Though it is small, it is mighty! The books are offered at cost so that anyone can easily afford basic tools to study the Bible. The bookstore also offers free music on the weekends. It's located directly across from a popular local bar and we have seen some folks wander in, looking for escape from the bar life.
10. I love that we are fulfilling the purpose that God has for us as a body of believers. While there is always room to grow and develop, I see so much evidence of the working of the Holy Spirit in our body. It isn't the right fit for everyone--no church is--but for those of us called to be a part of this body, it is the exact right match. We are challenged to conform to God's image, we are encouraged to study His Word.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Invoking Authority

Our youngest, Olivia, is two and a half. The half is important for a variety of reasons. She is most definitely not a baby anymore (as she loudly proclaims if we forget and label her that way). She is close to being potty trained, she's out of the high chair and the crib, she climbs stairs on her own, and her vocabulary is better than some adults I've met! She's also better able to relate to her older sisters, especially in their make-believe world. We can reason with her, to some extent, and she is able to understand and follow instructions independently (though she doesn't always do so willingly).
Lately, she's developed a new way of arguing her way out of obedience. Taking cues from her older sisters (who have most certainly learned the value of truth-telling and the consequences of lying), she has begun to invoke authority when she wants to accomplish her own will. Here's an example:

Olivia, please put on your shoes so we can go to the store.
I don't want to.
Well, I understand, but we are still going to the store, so you must put on your shoes. Let's go.
Daddy says I don't have to wear shoes.
(Hiding a smile) I'm sure Daddy didn't say that.
Yes he did.
No, I don't think so.
Yes! He! Did!
Okay, let's ask Daddy what he said.
I'm going to put on my shoes.
Sounds like a good idea.

I could list countless incidents like this one. The issue for little Olivia is she is trying to apply false authority to get her own way. She has figured out that mom and dad carry more clout, so she "borrows" that clout for her own purposes. It's funny, in a way, but it's also sin. It made me question whether I invoke false authority in my own life...

I don't mean in obvious ways. I know who Jesus is. I know God is God and my Father and the ultimate Authority over all. What I mean, is do I invoke God's authority to get my own way? Do I use my walk with the Lord to justify avoiding situations or people? Do I use it to justify something that's actually (gulp) sin? Do I casually say, "I'm praying for you, sister" when I clearly am not? Do I claim Jesus is Lord of my life, when in reality He's only Lord over things I allow Him to have?

They are good questions and questions I'll be pondering over for awhile.

Father, forgive me if I invoke Your authority inappropriately. Forgive me if I have knowingly or not tried to justify something as part of Your will when it is clearly not. Thank You for showing me these things, though it is hard to confront them. I love you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Chores My Kids Can Do

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted. But, with morning sickness and a severe back injury, my energy must be doled out carefully and sparingly. Blogging has been low on the list. Since I am unable to bend over without falling to the floor or lift anything without crying out in pain, I've enlisted the help of my girls with the household chores. Amazingly, my girls have grown up over night and are able to handle proficiently many, many chores around our home. Praise the Lord for my little slaves, er, blessings!

Here are 10 chores I've discovered my children are capable of completing:

1. Sorting laundry into appropriate piles for the washing machine.
2. Placing clothes into washer, dryer or a clean laundry basket. Also, starting the washer and dryer with supervision.
3. Unloading the dishwasher, with supervision concerning the silverware and sharp knives.
4. Swiffering the floors.
5. Dusting the furniture, with supervision around the china cabinet:)
6. Collecting the trash cans from around the house and emptying them into the kitchen trash can.
7. Running the vacuum--Emma is the only one old enough to do this so far.
8. Using a Clorox wipe to wipe down the sink and counter in the bathroom--only the older 2 girls. Olivia likes to use wipes on everything...including herself.
9. Putting away their own laundry, the older 2 helping Olivia find the correct drawers for her clothes.
10. Feeding, watering and letting the dogs outside. This is a favorite and one often fought over. I have to keep track of who's turn it is to avoid WWIII!

Once again, thanks to Ann for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays!