Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beginning A Journal

My ponderings over the last few weeks have led me to begin a journal to correspond with the beginning of the new year. After praying about exactly what type I would like, I chose this plain, hardbound book with unlined pages, and am almost giddy thinking of all the potential it and the year hold. I wanted to share with you the first entry I made in the journal, in case you, too, have been feeling led to begin one.
Being that this is my first attempt at keeping a journal, perhaps I should be nervous. Will I actually do it? Will I find this book in a cluttered box three years from now with no other writing save what lies here? Or could this be the first day that my life has a permanent record? Will these pages be the encouragement that I one day look back upon to know that my life was not spent in vain? I cannot know any of these answers now. I can only apply that tiny spark of hope to the tinder of this book and feed it with whatever there is within me of commitment and diligence to see it through.

Although this journal will house my thoughts, my feelings and my ideas…I dedicate it to the glory of YHWH alone. I pray that He will use it as a tool to help me find Julie, and in the process, know Him better. Whose I am is not in question ~ I have given my life to the One who gave it to me. Yet, there is a softly nagging question regarding who I am. I am Phil’s Bride and my children’s’ Momma to be sure, (and blessed I am to be such), but anything else seems to have somehow been lost along the way, assuming there ever was anything else. I am content with my role in life, but wonder if I can bring more of myself to it. Are there skills, abilities or inspirations lying dormant within me that, unearthed and nurtured, could bless my family and bring glory to YHWH? Have I buried my talents in the dailyness of life? These things remain to be determined.

There’s more, too. I want to remember. So much of my early years of motherhood and wifehood are lost forever…because my mind lacks any resemblance to a steel trap. How I long to go back and recapture those days when all my people were small, and soak it in ~ and remember ~ forever. In the fleeting moments of Now, I recognize that, lest it be written down somewhere, I am unable to recall all that happened last week, much less the last few years. I may not be able to recapture all that has transpired, but I can begin today, recording as-it-happens, all that is to be seen from this Momma’s knothole.

From the perspective I have, here in this linear reality called time, the year ahead is empty. YHWH is there, and knows the end from the beginning, but I have yet to walk there. I cannot tidy the mess of emotions about the coming year into a neat bundle. Some, like the fear of the unknown, are unruly, and must be coaxed into submission. Others, like the thrill of new beginnings, must be tamed so as not to outrun YHWH’s timetable. Yet, eagerness, trepidation, determination and uncertainty are carved deeply into my walking stick as I trudge forward to see what lies ahead...

Welcome, 2008. May you be filled with all that YHWH has planned.

Although I am unsure if and how I will fit journaling into life, I believe that even the thought processes and promptings that brought me to this point will not be in vain. Progress is good, when it is for His glory. So here's to blank pages, blank calendars and new beginnings!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What Else Are Ya Gonna Do?

If you have been itching to learn how to make your own herbal medicines and remedies... this is the time.

1) It's Winter, and the days are too dreary to be outside much

2) There will likely be extra opportunities to have flu casualties case studies readily available

3) The price is right better than right now.

Run, don't walk over to Cheri's to buy her Medicinal Herb Course. This is the course I bought and studied to learn how to make herbal oils and salves, but there is also much more. An awesome recipe for Healing Salve is included in the Course, which is great for replacing both petroleum-based antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) and diaper rash ointment ~ we use it for both! Here's an excerpt from Cheri's site:
This simple, easy to follow course will teach you the basics of making your own herbal remedies. We will cover 10 easy to grow medicinal herbs, including some that commonly grow wild. The herbs included in this course are Calendula, Chamomile, Comfrey, Feverfew, Horehound, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mullein, Plantain, and Red Clover. You will learn how to grow these herbs, how to harvest them, when to harvest them and how to use them in herbal remedies. You will learn their plant families, their medicinal properties and see a color picture of each one.

You will also learn how to make the most common herbal remedies! You will make a water infusion, a decoction, a hot oil infusion, a cold oil infusion, a syrup, a compress, a poultice, a salve and a tincture! I have even included a copy of my own research sheet that I use when studying a new herb.This course contains over 50 pages of material!

So, the course is on sale until December 31!  With the purchase of the Course, you also get free mentoring from Cheri until the end of February! She is a wealth of knowledge in all things herbal, and I know you'll learn a lot from her.

What a great goal for the New Year ~ getting healthy ~ naturally. (I'll be posting my New Years' goals soon... as soon as I stop drooling over my new journal. Yum!) Are you thinking about some, too?

Friday, December 21, 2007

So, I took advantage of the half price sale over at Heart of Wisdom this week, and we seem to have some interesting results already. I just have one question...

Fall 2007 163

Fall 2007 164

Did your kids do this when YOU studied Egypt?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don’t Get Mad…Get The Camera

Fall 2007

This morning Babydoll climbed up to the kitchen sink and began splashing gleefully in the oatmeal pot that was soaking after breakfast. The picture doesn't do justice to the soggy oatmeal floaters that flew in each splash, and truly the mess was minor compared to what I have experienced with my boys in the past, but as I ran for the camera, I was transported in an instant. Those bittersweet feelings of deja-vu and the passage of time mingled together to catch in my throat.

I know you've had them too. I remember how hard they could be in the early days ~how I often wished I could just cry, and often ~ often ~ did. When the children are all Littles and no Bigs, things can be harried, hustled and more than you can keep up with. One turn of your back and trouble can lead to hours of clean up time for the Momma. I know. I remember.

One thing I learned when my first four were all under four, (and I think it came from Martha Sears from the Baby Book) was the concept of, "Don't get mad, get the camera." When the Littles get into trouble of the I-can't remember-when-I've seen-such-a-mess variety, I'd quickly (as long as they were safe in the midst of the mess) run to grab the camera and record the moment for proof posterity. It was a sanity (and testimony) saver time and again.

I didn't remember every time, but I remembered often enough to have a slough of (now) comical pictures to help me remember that season. There was the Literary Lady and the brand new tube of ruby red lipstick and the Engineer who dumped the five pound bag of flour on his head... both caught on film to crystallize the memories. The too-cute shot of the Dreamer who had a quirky habit of dipping his head into the toilet every chance he got and the boys who unloaded a 25 pound bag of spaghetti noodles onto their bedroom floor are proof that boys are not girls. They help me remember a season when I was running so hard I had little time to soak up the memories. I was just trying to survive.

The times I did not get pictures, are memories not as clear...the memories' edges are fading and curled...threatening to fade into obscurity. Regarding the three dozen eggs liberally-but-carefully crushed and scattered throughout the kitchen, I can barely remember the culprit without promptings from the children. There is no picture to take me back. I remember the day during my fifth pregnancy that I awoke from a first trimester induced accidental nap on the couch to sounds of water running and tiny voices saying, "Oh, no... you're going to drown him!". There is no picture to show what I passed on my way to the bathroom voices. Nothing to show the entire box of cereal and a gallon of milk all over the kitchen floor and glitter sprinkled on every horizontal surface of the ground floor. I found the "big kids" (at their ages then, the term is used loosely) washing the glitter from the feet of the Dreamer in the bathroom sink.

Not only do I wish I had a picture, I wish I could revisit that time. To return more mature, more disciplined, more patient...more cognizant of the importance of living IN the moment. Knowing that I cannot... I do the next best thing. I encourage you.

When the going gets rough...don't get mad. Take a picture. One day you may wish you had.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cubby Holes

We recently have acquired an Indoor Village in the kitchen, courtesy of Mr. Visionary's installing new cabinets. When I was unable to locate several of the older children this afternoon, I found them cozied up inside working on assignments.

Fall 2007 156

Fall 2007 155

Fall 2007 157

So, is this "school"? emphatic, "No". (At least it isn't like anything I ever saw in a classroom.)

Is it learning? Yeah, Buddy...and I think the boxes just justified their existence in my kitchen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Room Cleaning For Littles

Here's a question following up from the comments of this post:
I've been enjoying the dialogue on your blog about training children with managing their rooms. Once again, I'm amazed at the things I'm just now learning (b/c I was never taught), but now thankfully, I'm finding those "Titus 2" women out there like you and others who are teaching other mommies like me.

Well, my question, is what age do you do this at? Do you never have stuff in their room until they can manage it by themselves? I have a 7 yo (girl) and 3 yo (boy) who share a room right now. Just trying to figure how to implement this. And do you box everything up and put away (except a couple items)?

I know your time is very limited, but I'd appreciate a little more insight.

My thinking is you can do it at whatever age they begin having a room to keep orderly. I would be perfectly comfortable expecting a 7 and 3 (yes, even a boy...grin) to keep their room in order. Mine always seem to like having 'jobs' that are just a wee bit above what they are easily able to do ~ they seem to feel 'bigger' about doing 'bigger kid' jobs.

That said, know this... this method of taking everything out of their rooms is not about punishment. It is training. Any potential weeping and wailing from them can be dealt with by a shrewd Momma marketing the thing well.
"Kids, I have a great idea! You know how messy your room always is, and how you always have to keep picking everything up all day? Well, I have an idea that will make your room waaaayyy bigger, and give you tons of space to play, AND be really easy to clean up... so you have more time for playing."

Then, we would literally box up all but ____ and take it out of their room. (You'll need to decide for yourself how much is the right amount to box.) If you really want this to be a positive experience, then think cold turkey... the more stuff you box up, the easier it will be for them. I know it sounds drastic... I do. Trust me when I tell you that it will help them so much! We have for a season taken the boys down to just beds and their clothes were moved into the laundry room to live...we just put their dresser in there. Once they were used to just getting up and making their beds and putting their clothes in hampers, we reintroduced an item at a time per child. We allowed them to choose the reintroduced items, to motivate them to prioritize  what they have and why. We have for a season also taken our big girls down to beds and one under-the-bed sized box of whatever they chose (they are older, and weren't having quite as much trouble).

Each time we did it, my kids were relieved. They were no longer spending all their free time sitting in a wrecked room looking around wondering where to start. Their attitudes about how much stuff was necessary in their lives was altered so that even when they worked back up to getting their stuff back, much of it they didn't even want. I have found that it was mostly the idea of it that they liked (i.e. "Hey...that's my stuff!"), and they weren't particularly attached to the stuff itself.

So, to answer your question, yes... My children can't ever have stuff in their room that they cannot manage. Life is too short for me to watch them spend unnecessary time and energy taking care of "stuff'. It is easier for them, because they watch Mom and Dad do this all the time with physical stuff and other areas like time and responsibilities. We cut what we cannot manage well. We ditch stuff, we cut out activities and we excuse ourselves from anything that is too demanding of us.

On another note, what they *do* have, has to be easy for them to care for. One comfortor or quilt  (something chunky, so wrinkles won't show) and a bottom sheet is all I would expect them to be able to manage on their own just yet. All their clothes need to be easy to put away ~ down low where they can reach. Toys should also be as easy to clean up as they are to pull out. I had to learn that Littles can't do bookshelves ~ they need buckets for books, low hooks for clothes, etc. Toy boxes are evil inventions (grin). They were made to frustrate little children, I think. The only way to get to your favorite toy (which is always on the BOTTOM) is to dump out everything on the top. It makes keeping their room clean burdensome.

For a few days before you do this, I would study your children to see what their absolute favorite toys are, then plan to keep out those (if you keep out any at first). Then, after the boxing up party, plan a tea party to celebrate. Also, to head off discontent in the beginning, I always plan a few extra special activities to do with the children. When doing the activity, be sure to drop the, "Wow, I'm so glad we took care of all that extra stuff for you or we wouldn't have had time to do this. Isn't this fun?" line several times. Their reception is dependent on the spin you add.

One more thing... depending on the space you have, you may have to be creative about where to put the boxed stuff while it is waiting to be reintroduced (or purged). We always use the attic, but you may need to think garage or even trunk of the car... but it is best that it be out of sight. Ask me how I know.

She Sure Is Sneaky!

So my friend Cheri sends the most vague and mysterious email this morning. After I determined that she must get up way earlier than us in the mornings, I popped over to her place to see what was up. I was blessed by finding that she had given me a blog award. That means a lot to me, especially considering my opinion of her ~ she is one of the most faithful Mommas I know. She loves Yahweh, loves His Word and is a Believer whom strong wind does not shake. She is also an herbal mentor to me and makes awesome soap, salves and teas, but those things are just the fringe benefits. I am blessed to call her Friend. Thanks, Cheri.


On with the rules:

Eric Novak came out with the Christian award “Blogging with a Purpose” in late April of 2007. With so many secular awards around, Eric thought it would be a good idea to come out with a Christian award.

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to this site.

And my choices for those upon whom I would like to bestow this award are quite a struggle. There are several friends' or acquaintances' blogs for whom sending this award would be a hardship rather than just a blessing, as the time involved in posting and linking would be a burden because of where they are in life at the moment. So what's a girl to do?

Instead, I'll post a few links of blogs that have blessed me over the years. Yeah, I know it seems like a cop-out, but sometimes it is the best way. So, be blessed by the following:

Carla Lynne ~ My real life friend who has made a drastic-but-wonderful move to get closer to where Yahweh is calling her family. My hero, really.

My Holly-Belle ~ A lady who follows her convictions even when they are not popular... and does it with grace. One of the first things I noticed about her is how much she loves her husband. She's a Momma's Momma, too. Go easy on her... she welcomed baby number eight a mere three weeks ago, and is still honeymooning with her Wee One.

Large Family Logistics ~ If you go here, you will see that Kim is in no place to blog now. But her archives will be a blessing to you, as they were for me when they were new. It has much about the practicals of large family life, but any size family will benefit from her blog.

Heart of Wisdom Blog ~ Robin Sampson is a mother of eleven who is a deep thinker. Her book by the same title made me rethink a lot of my methods in homeschooling and slaughter a lot of sacred cows in the area of "thou shalts" for homeschooling. Our life is freer and more productive educationally since applying the methods in her book, which she shows are really some of the same ones used by Yeshua (Jesus) with His disciples.

(Yay! I have successfully resisted the urge to *have* to choose five. These were the ones on my heart, so these are the ones I'd like to share with you. )

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tinctures To Go

I hate memes. I do not mind reading them, mind you ~ it is fun to read other folks' ~ but I know me... if I started doing them, I would feel pressured by the things and feel as if I had to do it every week. I have enough real responsibilities without my adding imagined ones. All of that is to say that had I been doing the Works For Me Wednesday meme, and had today actually been a Wednesday, this is the sort of thing I would post.

Mr. Visionary was feeling under the weather last night when he came home from the old grind work. He had a stuffy nose, his sinuses were swollen and stuffy feeling, and his head was aching. He had felt fine until about mid afternoon, so after interrogating questioning him about his day and noting nothing out of the ordinary, I smelled a rat and figured a virus was to blame. I doused dosed him with tinctures, and sent him to bed.

When he awoke stuffy again, I gave him another tincture dose, but realized that, Dads not always having the luxury of staying home when they're feeling poorly, he'd be leaving for work in a few minutes. It was then that an idea struck me, a second-best idea, (the first-best was having Dad stay at home), in the form of portable tinctures.

Dunt dunt dunt dun... (How does one spell that drumroll sound the boys are always making?)

Fall 2007 153

Fall 2007 154

Cool, huh? Now all Dad has to do is mix this pre-measured dose with a little water to make it easier to get down, and voila! Healthy medicine to go.

I save vanilla bottles for just this purpose... the amber colored glass is perfect for maintaining the quality of your tinctures, and I won't mind if they get lost or broken.

Works for me, even if it isn't Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 11


A Priesthood Change: From Levitical to Melchizedek's

Empowered By The Holy Spirit

Immersion In The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit As Teacher

The Spirit Of Conviction


Here's the link for Lesson 11.


Often as I have been studying the Hebraic foundation of our faith, I have been blown away by how interconnected the "Testaments" are. I had no idea how much the Newer Testament built upon and showed the fulfillment of the Older Testament. Let me know if you are as amazed as I was at learning the background behind Jesus' baptism. Things like this keep sending me back to the Older Testament to study more to see what else I will "see" that makes it all fit together so seamlessly. I keep having the same reaction over and over when studying these lessons: my mouth drops open, and all I can say for a while is, "Wow."





Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little By Little

The last few days our house has been spotless. But, being that my definition of spotless includes everything being in its place all at one time and being clean as well, it is not hard to understand that, while this state has at one time or another in the past been witnessed in our home, the duration of said state is a vapor quickly fleeting. Our being in the season of having our home on the market to sell, it is necessary, albeit tortuous, for this to be the constant state of things for an indefinite period of time. Ahem. I thought childrearing itself was a vehicle of sanctification, but it has nothing on childrearing plus this pretending-that-our-life-is-lived-in-a-magazine.

As I pondered the unpleasantness of living as if complete strangers could walk in at any moment, it appeared I was not the only one traveling this road of thought. My big girls' questions and comments during a spot-check cleanup session began several discussions about my Newlywed life. It is comical to them to know that they know more at their ages (12 and 11) about childrearing, running a home and cooking than I did when I got married, so they ask about that season regularly.

"So Mom, how did you keep the whole house clean when all you had was you doing all the cleaning?"

"First of all, it was only myself and little boys (the girls snickered at this mention) there were not as many folks to clean up after. Second, I didn't. It was a wreck. All the time. The laundry was always piled up to the top of the washer, we had to wash a dish before we ate out of it, and we couldn't have company because we couldn't find the couch."

Looking around, I was gratefully aware that the fact that we can now have even fleeting moments of having the house spotless with a family of nine is evidence of Yahweh's grace in my life. It is He that allowed me to grow and learn in order to be able to pull off such a feat today. Even today, it is a testimony to His loving kindness alone, and not my superior skill or (cough) self discipline. Every day it gets a little easier as we raise the bar and attempt to live up to what we have already attained.

I explained to my girls that it all started with the medicine cabinet. I knew a bit about how to clean and given the right circumstances, I could organize a closet. My most pressing problem was that I had no idea how to manage the cleanliness of my home, to manage the state of our home's organization, to manage the budget, or to manage the pantry or menus... none. I cared for my home in spurts. I would go six months without making my bed, then have a major cleaning spurt and pull an all-nighter to get everything spic and span at once. The 'clean' would only last hours, as I had no idea how to keep it that way. I was disgusted with myself and sorely discouraged, but didn't know what to do to change and had no one I could ask for help.

I know when it happened. When my children were 3, 2 and 1 and I was seven months pregnant with baby #4, Mr. Visionary gave me one day's notice that he was going out of town for a week. He left the day after Christmas, when myself and the children were worn out from all the holiday traveling, had no groceries in the house, and an ice storm was approaching. To say that I broke down that weekend would not quite capture all that transpired. As I was without power and water, cooking over the woodstove with three babies, and my house was a wreck, it was all I could do to keep my head above water. In fact, the only way I made it was by praying through tears seemingly the entire time. I was as overwhelmed as I have ever been at that point, and all I could do was to cry out to Yahweh. I asked Him to give me hope via something tangible. My faith was so faltering that I needed something I could see. Enter the medicine cabinet.

I had a small bathroom that a pregnant woman couldn't bend over in. In it was an even smaller medicine cabinet on the wall that held the leaking toothpaste, outdated medicine, half-used razors and odds and ends. One day I cleaned out that cabinet, frustrated that it was always so stuffed that it wouldn't close properly. In an epiphany, I put a stake in the ground, and determined that from there on out... I WOULD KEEP THAT CABINET CLEANED OUT! It was a minuscule step in view of the whole picture of the chaos in my life, but it was something.

Over the next few weeks ~ unfortunately this was no quick process ~ I did manage to keep it in order. It gave me back a smidge of self respect that had been long lost. Encouraged from there, I raised the bar to keeping the whole (remember it is very small) bathroom cleaned all the time. This plan was all I could manage during that season of so many little ones. As each of the first areas became habit, I gradually began adding areas to what I was able to keep under control. It is not a fancy system ~ but it takes much prayer to grow in self discipline a little at a time, with a commitment to not backslide. Easy? No, not really ~ self discipline never is. It was just simple enough to give me the hope I needed to be faithful to keep that I didn't stay in the chaos. I continued to check out books that taught me how to clean, study every Momma-of-Many I could get myself near and soak up knowledge from every arena I saw producing good fruit in order to grow my newly blooming skills.

Today, when one of the children has trouble keeping their room clean, we go back to this plan. Everything in their room comes out except the basics. When the child can keep the bed and three outfits in order, on a regular basis, then they can choose a few more items to come back to their room. When they can manage that much regularly, then they can choose a little more. It ministers to them, as they get the opportunity to feel that same self respect that I experienced by having their own domain in order.

Things have changed drastically in our home since those early days. Folks constantly comment positively about the orderliness in our home, and assume I must have been one of the 'born organized' types. An old friend used to mock people whose homes were really clean because to her it meant that they must not be caring for their kids properly. She didn't know where I had been, so I tried to overlook her comments. Because I do remember from where I have come, I am amazed that any woman has any order at all. To this day, when struggling younger Mommas ask me how to manage their homes, I give them this same advice. Find something... no matter how small... to be a foundation that you can maintain...feel good about yourself (not self-esteem, but self respect)... then build upon it. It may be a section of counter, a certain chair that always has clothes piled high, a section of the top of your desk...

Even if it is only a medicine cabinet, it can be a good place to put a stake in the ground.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Sickness Season

Since it appears to be that time of year again, when viruses are running rampant, and lots of folks are succumbing, I've been feeling led to get back on the wagon as far as doing my part to keep us healthy. Also, my dear friend Carla Lynne has also just been through a major illness, and her exhortation to WASH YOUR HANDS startled me awake again. I hadn't realized how lax my efforts at building our family's immunity had become.

But, as they used to say on the G.I. Joe cartoon I watched as a kid, "Knowledge is half the battle... Yo Joe!" Now that I know, I'm redoubling my efforts, and restudying my own homework to refresh myself. I am posting a link to an old study I did called Battling Illness Naturally:Prevention for your benefit, and mine.

Now I won't have to keep digging in the Archives every time I want to read it. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 10

Happy Hanukkah to those who avail themselves of the blessings of observing this holiday! For those who do not, and wonder why a Gentile believer in Yeshua (Jesus) would want to celebrate this holiday, here is a great post by our friend Lisa, entitled "Why Hanukkah?". In a nutshell, the events leading up to Hanukkah were prophesied in Daniel chapter 8, and without the efforts of the Maccabees, frankly there would not have been a Messiah. Maybe that is why Yeshua himself traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate as well (my studies show this to be a three to five day journey ~ in winter).


In our study, this lesson is getting down to the nitty gritty details of walking out life together as the ecclesia ~ the called out ones ~ and growing in our roles as men and women of the Most High, Yahweh. This lesson, in particular reiterates the lesson that Mr. Visionary has been teaching our children about knowledge not being an end in itself, but is valuable only as it helps us grow in our obedience to Yahweh and His Word.




Elders, Our Father's Representatives

The Importance of Older Women

Growing Wise And Remaining Teachable



Here's the link for Lesson 10.



Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taking A Quick Break

We've been doing all the last-minute preparations for putting our house on the market this week, so time for the computer has been nil. During a quick break this afternoon, I found this test, and spent wasted a few minutes completing it. It was good to have at least one thing completed today. I wonder how I would have scored if they had seen me taking the test with paint in my hair, drywall dust up my nose and the same tie-dyed, paint-splattered t-shirt I've worn for three days?

Click to view my Personality Profile page




In any case, it was a fun few minutes, and I'm posting it here in case I need proof that I did finish something today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 9

So, Thanksgiving is over here in the States, and life is ~fairly~ back to normal, so let's go on to Lesson 9, in which Mike & Sue discuss:



Life As A Pilgrimage

The Answered Prayer of The Righteous

The Home, The Basic Spiritual Building Block

Fellowship of Extended Spiritual Family


Here's the link for Lesson 9.


If profundity comes, please share in the comments. :)

Yeah, It Matters

I am making this a "Page" to go on the upper right sidebar, but I also wanted to post it here, in order to make sure everyone got a chance to read it. From here on, I'll be using this name, and I wanted you all to understand why. As soon as I can, I'll go back to edit all the old posts to reflect this as well.

I never knew it did before. Sure, I had read the Ten Commandments - even taught them to my kids - but I never studied them, never really interrogated the text. I had not even so much as questioned "The" commandments concerning whether they had been interpreted accurately... whether the words of the King of the Universe had been preserved carefully enough.

Studying prophecy and comparing it to current events is a common practice in our home. We read about world events and without hesitation compare what we see to Holy Scripture - all the time. Object lessons abound, and we can get "Current Events" credit while eating dinner. We do not wait for anything major or catastrophic. Ordinary, run-of-the-mill events give us plenty of fodder for discussion, then we move on to baths, laundry and dishes ~ other ordinary, run-of-the-mill events. But when I catch myself mentally rehashing recent happenings, when I think of them in the middle of the night and I just can't seem to let an issue go... I often sense the urging of the Holy Spirit to dig deeper, check things out, and see how all these things fit together.

My family knows I hate grey. Androgyny, ambiguity, politician-speak, circular logic, ecumenicalism, fence-sitting ... I hate them all. Say what you're saying, nail it down, pick a side, take a stand...choose... please. Concerning matters of normal life, the vagueness bothers me some... but when it comes to the things of eternal importance, the generalities anger me. So when I found that Pope Benedict prayed in a Muslim mosque to "the One God", and a Dutch bishop has suggested that Christians call their god "Allah" to keep from offending Muslims, I can promise that, as we say in the South, it stuck in my craw. This seemed to me to be more than just grey, it was wrong. So I went to the Word to check it out.

It appears that I am not the only one concerned about this "It's-all-the-same-god-let's-all-call-him-the-same-name" spiel- it is all over the "Christian" blogosphere. The problem is, that the rest of us "Christians" haven't been calling Him by the proper name, either. The King James Version incorrectly "translates" the third commandment, Exodus 20:7, "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Taking in vain (Strong's #7723) means to desolate, make useless, or ruin. We usually think we are doing well if we don't curse... we wouldn't want to ruin the word "LORD" or "God", right? The problem is, that the command is not to take his *NAME* in vain, and neither LORD nor God is his name.

In the third commandment, and in at least 5,000 other places in the Scriptures, He tells us His name. I knew that a principle in studying scripture is that, the more times something is recorded, the more importance it should have. So when I compared this figure to second half of the commandment, I was frightened into doing more study. Realizing that I had never heard His name in church was enough to make me shudder. Remembering that the KJV - the one that eliminates His name - was the most widely used translation for hundreds of years made me cringe. The church as a whole has desolated His name. Gulp.

His name, in Hebrew, the language of Scripture, translates into the four English letters YHWH, usually pronounced Yahweh. It is also the name included in these verses: (As per the original Hebrew text, His name has been added back in.)
Micah 4:5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of YHWH our God forever and ever.

Zephaniah 3:9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of YHWH, to serve him with one consent.

Isaiah 42:8 I am YHWH: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Jeremiah 16:21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is YHWH.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, YHWH is my God.

Leviticus 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of YHWH, shall be put to death.

Isaiah 47:4 As for our redeemer, YHWH of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 56:5-7 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to YHWH, to serve him, and to love the name of YHWH, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.

Jeremiah 50:34 Their Redeemer is strong; YHWH of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.

Jeremiah 51:19 The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: YHWH of hosts is his name.

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of YHWH shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as YHWH hath said, and in the remnant whom YHWH shall call.

Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, YHWH, The God of hosts, is his name.

Amos 5:8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: YHWH is his name:

Amos 9:6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: YHWH is his name.

Because I hate ecumenicalism and feel compelled to take a stand, I use the name of YHWH with no apologies. I desire to distance myself from all those that believe we "all worship the same god" because I worship the Holy One of Israel exclusively. I believe there is no difference in calling Him 'Allah' and calling Him 'God'. 'Allah' is just the Arabic word for 'God', and worse yet, 'Allah' in Hebrew, the language of scripture, means 'curse'. I can no longer call him by a title that in His language means curse (Allah), is the name of a false god mentioned in scripture (God), or is a name that actually goes back to Baal (the LORD). I just can't. In the same way that I want Phil to call me "Julie", and not "Wife"... I want to call Him by His name. My intimacy with Him makes me desire to call upon His name. Sure, calling on His name is more than proper pronunciation... it speaks to His character... who He is. But I can't think of a better way to distinguish which god with which character than to call on the personal name He has revealed to us.

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him" John 4:23. I am led to believe that part (by no means all) of worshipping in truth is calling Him by His real name, not some general title, used loosey-goosey by every Tom, Dick or Harry who considers themselves (or wishes to portray themselves as) "spiritual".

All this is to say that it matters. It matters to YHWH (hence the 5,000 times it is recorded in His Word), and it matters to me (hence this post). Whether it matters to you or not, is your call.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve YHWH, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve YHWH.

Please, don't take my word... do your own homework on this. Edited:  Look up the Strong's Concordance word #3068, count and consider for yourself. After thinking about it more, I really don't think the Strong's is that great of a help. If you're interested in this, I recommend searching Google - maybe search YHWH- and may He bless your search.

YHWH bless thee, and keep thee:
YHWH make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
YHWH lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

~Numbers 6:24-27

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Full Disclosure

Was it the crushing of my laptop last week?

Maybe it was the first bout of sickness that hit my house?

Perhaps it was the switching of the seasonal clothes for seven children, the stocking up on homemade tinctures and salves, our speaking at another church this past week, my listing of 350 items from my house for sale, or the fact that my Grandmother is making bean soup. I list the last option as proof that if one is looking for an excuse, any one will do. You always find what you're looking for, after all.

The fact is, bean soup or not, I've been swamped, which partially explains why I haven't posted another lesson in the study. The word "partially" indicates that further explaining is in order. While I do not feel the need to explain, I do feel the desire, so permit me to make an attempt.

Mr. Visionary and I were tremendously blessed by all that we were led to study on our own through the instigation of these lessons. When we considered beginning the study, it was for one reason: we wanted others to experience blessing as well. I had mentioned the study in a post before, but realized that the length of the study would be too daunting for most folks. I have this reaction as well... when I see something very long, I automatically sigh and dismiss it, unless...

Unless it sounds like something I have been looking for.

We believed we could not be the only ones searching for a better way, searching to see Father's face more clearly, seeking to discard all that we had inherited from the world, in order to live on nothing but the Word. We felt led to begin the study for the other ones who were searching, too. We did not know who these would be, but felt sure that our Father would.

Throughout the beginning of this study, I have been overwhelmed with all that it has required of me. We were sure we were supposed to start it, but the walking it out has been more challenging than I had imagined. As I have gone through the study this second time, it has been just as profoundly affecting me as the first. I have needed time to digest and ponder... time to understand things more clearly... time to pray and know that I am hearing His voice.

The questions and e-mail that have multiplied by ten have been all that I can keep up with. My dear friend has encouraged me to begin a Yahoo group to help with further discussion (and all the questions), but that as well would be consuming, and too much for this mother of seven to manage. (I'm organized, but I'm not that organized.) I desire to help and to answer questions, but with only so much time, I struggle to determine what this would look like. Please bear with me as I figure it all out.

Also, I have been feeling pressured by my perceived need to post something profound (or at least attempt it) for each lesson. But, as Mr. Visionary reminded me, perception is not reality, and anyway, profundity doesn't always come. Sometimes I am just as much in a digestion stage as everyone else, and cannot come up with anything coherent to share. If I post the lessons alone, I hope to be able to free up more time to enter into the discussion with everyone else. All of this is to say that I will be just posting the lessons from here on out, and sharing my own experience through the comments.

Whew... I feel relieved already!

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 8

Here's the link for Lesson 8.

If you have anything you'd like to share, please leave it in the comments section below! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 7

"Oh, thank you...I appreciate your mentioning that. But, no Ma'am, we won't be needing it."

"Yes sir, they told us that you have a _____ (Children's ministry/Sunday school/Nursery). Thank you for mentioning it again...if we need it, we'll let you know."

There have been times, when visiting churches, that literally four or five people in a row (of steadily increasing "rank") have bullied pressured strongly encouraged us to utilize the programs that are available at their church when it became apparent that we were intending to ~ gasp ~ keep our children with us during the worship service. The pressure to parcel out our children was unrelenting, the stares of disbelief when we didn't were blatant and the overall disdainful atmosphere was thick as molasses.

For a girl who struggles with Fear of Man, each of these instances could have been a temptation to give in to the pressure, and go against my convictions and, in the words of my Firm-As-A-Rock-And-A-Little-Saucy husband, roll over and wet on myself. Had it not been for our (unknowingly) instituting the practice of halakah as described in this lesson, I surely would have caved.

We had already been taught Yahweh's plan for families by one of those few passages we had studied from the Older Testament. We had embraced a Deuteronomy 6 lifestyle which affected every area of our marriage and parenting. After determining through the written Word (logos) that we were to live this way, we had to determine exactly what that would look like walked out in our family. This is where the Word (rhema) came in. We so needed Yahweh to show us what He wanted this to look like for us.

Homeschooling? Check. That was logos.

What curriculum to use?
Would we use any public school programs?
What subjects to study?
What would our days look like?
Would we incorporate any other teachers into our children's education?
These questions were all rhema...not specifically stated in Scripture, but still things we needed to know.

Worshiping together as a family unit? Check. That was logos.

Would we be in fellowship that did not agree with this practice?
What if they made a stink about it and asked us to step out of the service?
What if they begrudgingly accepted it?
What about Sunday School, youth group, AWANAS, etc.?
These too, were rhema.

Because we had already walked through many of the big issues in our life, and were firmly grounded in the "Thus saith the Lord" of them for our family, we knew what we would do in each varied situation. There was no question at the time. Just as having a budget eliminates having to make so many financial decisions, having halakahs set up, prayed (and sometimes fasted) over, and ingrained in our walk, it eliminates a lot of temptation and stress. Whew.

On a side note, let me just discuss for a moment what we found rhema is not. It is not looking at the clearly stated Word (logos) and deciding that XYZ clear instruction doesn't apply to us. There are some things that are without question. "Do not murder" means do not murder...whether the victim is an unborn child or an elderly or handicapped person. "Be fruitful and multiply" means that married people don't have the option to "choose" to not have any children because it doesn't suit their career plans or "calling" in ministry. "Honor the Sabbath" means in the way and on the day He has stated...not in the way and on the day it is convenient to us.

This is also the reason why we have found it so crucial to decide based on the logos and rhema alone before trying to figure out how we will walk it out. When we determined that Yahweh desired for us to keep the Sabbath, there was no way, "on paper" that it was going to work out. We were so busy as it was, and had no time to complete all we needed...we had to just act on faith.

I am here to tell you that Yahweh is faithful to extend grace to those who walk with Him in obedient trust! We have experienced manifold blessings from this one simple act of obedience...just doing what He told us, without questions, and letting the pieces fall where they may. I will go as far as saying that it has changed our life. His grace to help us obey is unending.

Mike and Sue reiterate this here:
Grace is the power and desire to uphold God's truth in your life no matter what it costs you. (snip) God's grace will enable you to keep your new conviction because of your desire to lovingly obey Him. Continue to pray for grace. And repent of your failure for not having known these new truths or lived by them before this time.

It is a good thing, too. After a few recent events, it appears we have some more halakahs to make, and that grace will be put into use once again.

Here's the link to Lesson 7.

(Please note that this was a post in a series from a study we are working through on Restoring The Early Church. You are welcome to join us at any time! Please start at Lesson One, which is HERE.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 6

I'm sure it had to have begun much earlier, but this was certainly a defining moment in my spiritual journey. I know I heard him correctly, for the way this large man bellowed, no one could have missed it. His frankness in asserting that this was his "fifth time getting saved" left me dumbstruck.

His hair still dripping from his recent baptism, he confided that he "liked to do it every once in a while to keep things right with the Big Man". That same feeling I get when someone drinks a diet soda with a Quarter Pounder and fries, or follows a Vitamin C tablet with a drag on their cigarette...that same, "That. Just. Isn't...enough..." feeling smothered me. A choking desire to scream and sob all at once left me speechless. Judging from the others around me all smiling, hugging and slapping the back of this poor fellow, I must have been the only one with misgivings about what I had just witnessed.

I knew I was not completely alone, though. Mr. Visionary and I had just the previous week been discussing his first experience officially going "soul winning". On a Saturday, he was paired up with an "experienced soul winner" and spent the first half of the day walking around an apartment complex trying to find folks with whom they could witness. The tally at the end of the day for this pair was one soul "won". After Mr. Visionary explained that the woman to whom they spoke was stone-cold drunk, and barely able to repeat the "sinners' prayer", I could not help but wonder...what about all the other thirty souls "won" that day? The soul winners who announced their totals the next day in the worship service all seemed proud enough, and the music and applause afterward were certainly booming. Yet, the nagging whisper did not go away. If the numbers of folks who had been "saved" through this congregation's efforts were so vast, where were the folks? Or better yet, assuming they could have gone somewhere else to church...the numbers cited were approximately ten percent of our large city's population...why hadn't the face of our entire city been changed? What was wrong with this picture?

Our background coming into this lesson was certainly one of believing that something was missing in the church, that there had to be something more to salvation than what we had always been told (and believed ourselves). It was a frequent occurrence that I would walk someone through the Roman Road, sweetly assuring them that all they had to do was believe. I would calm their fears, and settle their minds. When they asked, "Isn't there more to it? Don't I have to *do* something?". I would always say, "No, that's the beauty of His grace...all we have to do is believe." When later, the same person was living like hell again, with no recognizable difference in their life, I would be sad and frustrated and think, "I know I said all they had to do was believe...but...but..."

A major truth that Mr. Visionary and I had to accept was that no true doctrine can lose anything by closer inspection. Inside, outside, upside down...the truth is the truth is the truth...and our tearing it apart to make sure it is true could only lead to two outcomes. Either we would discover that it was wholly or partially false, or we would be that much more firmly grounded in why it is true. "...Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" 1Peter 3:15b. There are no other options, and we could not lose.

We can fully relate to Kirk Cameron's testimony. He tells that he first got saved with the Jesus-loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan-for-your-life spiel. It wasn't until much later that he heard the bad news that he had transgressed the holy standard of a holy God, and experienced true repentance. Since this was our story as well, we have for several years only preached the good news with the bad, to our children and those we come into contact with. But even with the Bad-News-First plan (Here's the law...see, you broke it...but here's what God has done to fix it), there was still something missing. We were determined to dig until we found it. Even if it meant that our neatly boxed paradigms were shattered once and for all. We were willing to take that chance to find the truth. Having already worked through the Demolishing Strongholds materials, and both of us having prayed earnestly that Father would remove from us any spirit of deceit...that we would see only His truth...and nothing else...we were ready to begin.

This lesson was pivotal in our journey to understanding the true gospel. What in the world did the Old Testament have to do with the gospel? What exactly was this gospel that the Early Church preached? I'm sure we had no idea...but we were going to find out. I was fully and forcefully convicted, however, that I could not keep saying that I believed the Bible was God's Word, that it was infallible, and utterly sufficient for all of life if I was to continue treating the Old Testament the way I had. The truth is, it had been good for stories for the children, for debunking the theory of Evolution, for pulling out a few gems for parenting, and for my self-righteous Reading-Through-In-A-Year plan, but I mostly ignored it as irrelevant. I had to repent, and in the changing of my ways, my Father has once again showed unending mercy toward me, by teaching me what it was I had been missing.

My prayer is that this would be your testimony as well.

Here is the link for Lesson Six.

(Please note that this was a post in a series from a study we are working through on Restoring The Early Church. You are welcome to join us at any time! Please start at Lesson One, which is HERE.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 5

Sorry for the delay! We're working on a plan that will help with some of the technical difficulties some folks are having with being able to download the lessons. While we get the details worked out, let's go ahead with the next lesson.

Lesson Five is here.


( Please note: this post is part four in a study series we are beginning on Discussing Restoring the Early Church, in which you are welcome to join. You may find Lesson One HERE and the other lessons are posted on the sidebar.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Restoring The Early Church - Lesson 4

( Please note: this post is part four in a study series we are beginning on Discussing Restoring the Early Church, in which you are welcome to join. You may find Lesson One HERE, Lesson Two HERE and Lesson Three HERE.)

He was trembling as he heard the words, his every muscle taut with the tension of the moment. As Shaphan finished the reading, all was still, the only perceptible sound the throbbing of his heart. The realization of all that the newfound scroll comprised struck fear in his very soul. His quivering hands subconsciously moved to clutch his throat when a wave of emotion enveloped him. The words of the law had been read. He immediately sensed the guilt that was upon himself and all the people.

Fearing the wrath of the God of Israel, he frantically ripped at his garments, violently tearing them asunder. The people, drawn by the sounds of his groaning agony watched in astonishment at this outward expression of the rending of his heart. Dropping to his knees King Josiah cried aloud, "Great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book." Echoes of his weeping reverberated throughout the palace and to the ends of the land...

The Holy Scriptures had been lost, and now were restored to Israel. He humbled himself, repented and received mercy. After the scroll had been rediscovered, King Josiah gathered the family leaders to hear the Word of the Lord so that they could rededicate themselves to their covenant with the Lord.

This is the place we are finding ourselves now. In a sense, the Word has been lost to us, buried in the doctrines of men. Adding to, changing, and reinterpreting the Word is a place we never want to be, and yet...

22,000 "Christian" denominations...

Hundreds of "Church Fathers"...

Councils, Edicts, Creeds, Doctrines...

Father, help us find our way back to your Word alone...for your glory.

Lesson 4, How Was The Word Lost? is HERE. Thanks for joining us!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On Your Mark…Get Set…Pause!

The word on the street is that we need to slow down a bit with our study. Sounds good to me, too. I have gone through the study before, but really, Mr. Visionary and I were so thirsty the first time that we flew through it in a weekend or two. It is richer this time, as Father has grown my understanding more since then.

We'll pick up with the next lesson on Sunday, October 21. That will give us all time to catch up with the lessons, gather our thoughts and converse and fellowship in the comments. Then, Lord willing, we will try out an every-other-day plan for new lessons. I will post the lesson one day, then we can have that day and the next to allow time for incubation and apperception.

Welcome to the new folks! This break is partially for you, as well, so that you have a chance to get on the same page as us. If you just got here, know that you are welcome to jump in with us at any point, but the lessons are much like mathematics in that each lesson is built on the ones before it.

For the ones wondering what is taking us slow-pokes so long, you can use your extra time to go over this article that Mike and Sue recommend:

The Gospel of the Covenant is the Pilgrimage to Salvation.

P.S. I am putting together a list so that I can pray for all those joining us in the study. If you have not commented, please let us know that you're here, either in the comments or e-mail, so I can pray for you as we walk through this together!

Restoring the Early Church ~ Lesson 3

Please note: this post is part three in a study series we are beginning on Discussing Restoring the Early Church, in which you are welcome to join. You may find Lesson One, the introduction, HERE, and Lesson Two, HERE.

Whether you are still plugging away, hoping beyond hope that somehow it will get better, or you have stopped going altogether...know this: you are not alone. The fact that you are reading this is proof that He is wooing you back to Himself. You're tired of going there for what feels like no good reason. You're "burdened by the meaninglessness of so much that is traditionally a part of our churches", and you no longer even "come away with a warm feeling"...just busy emptiness.

I know.          Me, too.          Me.          Too.
We say that our faith must be lived- that Christ invades us to transform every aspect of daily life. Yet we teach this faith in formalized classes or sermons far out of a life context... We say that every believer is a priest, gifted and responsible for building up others in the Body of Christ. And we bring adults to church, set them down and tell them to listen to a teacher or to the pastor. They have exercised no ministry, held no responsibility but to be quiet and orderly, and have helped no one by their presence...

The Emperor doesn't have on any clothes, and it is about time somebody said so. Much time is spent in this lesson assessing exactly how far off the mark modern Christianity is today, but not for the sake of pointing it out alone. This isn't church-bashing, this is taking stock. Until we individually realize, deep down, the state of affairs in the church, and in our own hearts and lives, we are impotent to make any changes more lasting than Band-Aids. How long can we stand to "merely go through the motions of the ministry, having a form of godliness but no power"? See the problems. Notice the lack of fruit from all the effort. Grieve over the emptiness. It is a step not to be skipped over.
You think you're pleasing God for all your activity and its results, yet beneath the programs and entertainment lies an emptiness that few will admit. Institutionalism deceives you into feeling good about yourself even after your responsiveness to God has ceased.

Once we have a clear vision of our state of affairs, only then can we move on to the next step. Making a decision. We can either continue to "effect repairs", adding Band-Aids on top of Band-Aids both personally and corporately, or we can accept the challenge of restoring the true biblical foundations of the early Church.

Going once again to the model of relational priorities, we know that the depth of our personal relationship with our Father and Jesus is of utmost importance if the Holy Spirit is to guide us into the truth God wants us to live by. We need to remember our first love...whom we love because He first loved us...and who saved us while we were wretched sinners.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works... Revelation 2:4-5a

I was so encouraged by the closing statements in this lesson. It is my prayer that this will be the fruit of this study: that His children will search and discover truth through His Word alone, and not the traditions of men.
If you understand that Jesus is the only Head and Builder of His Church, you need to search the Bible. Discover that which He and the apostles presented through the Hebraic framework in which it was initially addressed. Those who are willing to do this can work together in agreement with the Holy Spirit and in our time see a true expression of the Church of Jesus Christ. Will it be popular? Probably not. Will it be powerful? Yes, exceedingly so!

Father, by your Holy Spirit, please help us to see. We need You to breathe life into our tired souls, and lead us through your Word into a deeper, truer relationship with You...for Your glory alone.

Here is the link for Lesson Three.

We'll wait to hear from you. However, know that this is a lot to think and pray through. I do not want us to go through this study too quickly. If you're feeling that we should slow down, or pause for a day or two, before moving on, let me know in the comments. I do not want to rush a move of the Spirit...and Father is in charge of the timing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Restoring the Early Church ~ Lesson 2

Please note: this post is part two in a study series we are beginning, in which you are welcome to join. You may find part one, the introduction, HERE.

This is a study that made me rethink a lot of beliefs I held tightly but did not own...things I believed because I was told they were true, rather than because I studied them myself. I had to slaughter a lot of my 'sacred cows', and tear down many high places as I went through this study the first time. Because my memory is intact concerning my own experience with the study is the reason we will move slowly through this. It just takes time to digest it all.

Before we begin, I want to encourage everyone to do your homework! What...there's homework? Well, not officially, but in order to own beliefs, one really needs to study for themselves. So get out your Bibles, pens and notebooks, and let's do the Berean thing.
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17 : 10-11

So often it is a temptation to skim over Scriptures that are familiar to us, because, well, we've read the same ones a thousand times over. I want to encourage you to really meditate on the Scriptures in the study. Use your concordance to look up the words in the original Hebrew or Greek, make notes, and allow yourself some time for what you're studying to sink in. Ask Father, through His Holy Spirit, to confirm what you are reading...He will.

Here are a couple of quotes to notice as you go through this lesson:
Keep this in mind: Religion in itself would not exist if people weren't mislead into believing their distinct religious ritual and creed made them acceptable to God. And note:
Religion can exist without any relationship with God.

And regarding the two charts at the end of the lesson, Mike and Sue urge:
It's vital that you examine and judge your own faith practices. In the next few pages, we contrast different aspects of the Hebraic, relational way of interacting with God and each other, and Hellenistic, religious forms. Prayerfully go through the comparison to discern if you have been told the whole truth during your faith pilgrimage.

And one more:
One of the main difficulties in any discussion about "faith" is to admit that you might be wrong.

Throughout the study, I'll be sharing several areas where Mr. Visionary and I realized that we were indeed, dead wrong, once we compared "what we believed" to the Scriptures.

Here's the link for Lesson Two. Remember to come back and post your thoughts after going through it. We all will.

Monday, October 15, 2007

From Sick & Tired To Berean…Restoring the Early Church ~ Lesson 1

Sick and tired...all the truly no way to live.

We have become very diligent about being trustworthy stewards of our physical health, in order to keep as far from the sick and tired state as possible. We stay fairly healthy most of the time, but have, for those times we do succumb to the sick and tired state, learned what to make as well as how to administer our own medicine to bring ourselves back to health and vitality.

For physical illness, we use physical medicine.

Oh, that sick and tired in the physical were the only type of sick and tired there was! Alas, Mr. Visionary and I have been far more sick and tired emotionally and spiritually than we have ever been physically. We have spent years in "traditional church", spinning wheels, going through the motions of all the acceptable church-sponsored activities, doing all that we were told would bring fulfillment and a sense of intimacy with Father...only to find it all lacking. In a very real sense we felt as if we were merely rearranging furniture on the deck of the Titanic. We have come home from more than a few church meetings to simply weep...feeling as spent and broken-down as we could be...only to have no answers.

No homemade tincture could ever fix this kind of sick and tired.

How we longed for some answers, for something to infuse the empty activity with meaning and change our listlessness to vigor. How we cried out to Jesus to show us what medicine would cure this longing! We had no idea how He would do this for us, but we were certain that if we continued seeking, He would answer us in some way.

Fast forward to a bad virus that hit our home this winter. Although Mr. Visionary and I were laid out flat on the Family Room floor, unable to move because of the nausea, we were able to do research on the computer. At the time our church was going through a restructuring process, and we were searching for information to help our pastor walk through it all. We "coincidentally" came across a study that later proved to be divinely inspired timing...and the answer for which we had been crying out to Father. Our life has been so profoundly impacted by this study, that I felt compelled to share it with a few friends.

Several friends and I have been going, individually, but simultaneously through this study. We have been blessed so tremendously in our discussion and sharing based on the study! Further, since I linked to this study before, I have gotten so much e-mail about it that I have prayed about doing the study on the blog, with whomever would like to join us.

If you have ever felt sick and tired of churchianity...and felt Father drawing you to something else...something more real...more intimate...more simple, then please pray and consider joining us in this study. We will have the comments open, and I believe several blogging friends will be joining in the discussion through the comments with us.

What He showed us through this study was that He had no desire to fill the empty activity, as He never desired it anyway. What He intended was to show us His heart for His people from the start...and how we left His original plan. Mike and Sue Dowgiewicz, especially anointed teachers, have a heart for taking us back to the the church even before Acts, and walking us through history to see where things got off track. They teach the relational priorities from Scripture that Father intended for us, beginning with our relationship with Him, moving outward to the relationships within our own homes, and only then to our extended spiritual family and the rest of the world, as their diagram shows:






Here is the Introduction to the study. Read through it, and pray about joining us. You do not need to start right when everyone else starts ~ if you find out about the study after we have begun, jump right in at the beginning, and start commenting wherever you are! Father knows all about the timing...and we can trust Him in that. So a Berean with us.

P.S. I spoke with Sue Dowgiewicz, and have their full blessing for doing the study and using their files. Their ministry is 100% funded by donations, and they allow and encourage anyone to copy and share their PDF files, audio lessons, and DVDs. It is very refreshing considering all the $39.95 tape sets and encouragements to "buy my latest book" from the radio guys.

I'm just saying. Refreshing is good.


We will be posting the first lesson for the study on Wednesday morning, October 17. We will then be posting one lesson per day until we are through, Lord willing. It should be about 50 lessons total, which at first, seems daunting, but that is to make the study manageable for all. If you happen to get behind…DON”T GIVE UP…just keep plugging along with us the best you can, and comment along your way. We will discuss each lesson in the comments of that particular lesson.






Friday, October 5, 2007

I Actually Won Something!

You know that last post about the otoscope contest, well...I actually WON one!

Cool, huh?

Go see, and see some other neat articles that explain how to use them and why...HERE.

By the way, I am still planning to get back here and answer Lynne's questions, but I've been swamped. Mr. Visionary and I are speaking at a Missions Conference for four nights beginning Sunday and I have been frantically putting together a Power Point presentation, plus getting all of us ready to go. Pray for us and the Work, if you think of it! We'd be grateful.

Meanwhile...I'll be back as soon as I can!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Confused News

Out and about early this morning, I was given the opportunity to ponder both the moronic and oxymoronic. My driving behind a school bus with it's screaming, jumping and wildly flailing un-seatbelted children gave me impetus for the former, and the morning news on the van radio supplied the latter. In the few brief minutes of reporting, I heard several statements that, in my most humble opinion, were oxymorons:

Senate Ethics

Peaceful Nuclear

Anti-Zionist Rabbi

Agressive Diplomacy

Nobody asked me. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

That Old Grey Mare


Funny thing about that Old Grey Mare ~ she is just not the same as we remember. Yet, she insists that it wasn't her that moved. Upon close inspection, I realize that if she is the one who has remained constant, then Mr. Visionary and I must have changed. Have we changed, or have we just put on a new pair of glasses? The answer is looking a lot like...


We have lately had several opportunities to watch again, this time with our children, movies that Mr. Visionary and I remember as being a lot of fun. We are cautious with the exposure our children receive, but not against good old fun sometimes, too. So, when on movie night recently, we pulled out something we haven't seen in ten years or so, we were shocked to realize that it was not fun anymore.

We have changed. Especially in the way we watch a movie. Instead of just sitting back, and pressing pause on our moral compass, we are actively filtering what we see through new glasses (the lens of God's word). Does everything have to be perfectly cheery, godly and uplifting? Absolutely not. But like King David, we will set no wicked thing before our eyes ~ not even for the sake of 'entertainment'. Seeing wickedness on the screen is not completely without purpose, in my opinion. Seeing wickedness either go unpunished (or worse...rewarded) or having it glamorized is absolutely evil, and we will not do it. We believe ourselves to be setting a bad example, and condoning the behavior if we allow ourselves or the children to watch it.

We were flabbergasted when a certain character 'prayed' aloud to his dead father asking for help locating something, and his sword was shown 'leading' him to the right place. Using methods that God has forbidden (necromancy) helped this man gain success. Yikes! Where did that come from? Neither of us remembered that part from the old days. The Old Grey Mare still swears she did not move.

Another part of our movie-watching experience that has changed is the degree to which we will allow ourselves to become emotionally involved. Movies are designed to illicit a certain emotional response in order for one to feel that they have experienced something other than two hours of idleness during the viewing. They are carefully crafted so that the viewer will believe that 'good guy' is who the producers desire to be the good guy, and they are often not good at all. In the movie we just watched (and agreed never to allow in our home again), one of the 'good guys' spent twenty years of his life with the sole purpose and religiously avowed goal of seeking revenge upon the killer of his father. The end of the movie encourages one to be happy for him that he was successful in reaching his goal of murder. I can understand the guy's sentiments...I just cannot condone them. Nor can I reconcile them with God's word.

"Oh, I know it is wrong...but it is sooooo romantic."
"Yeah, but his father was killed ~ he should do something about it!"
"What's so bad about it? They love each other."
"Well, those guys are rich; they don't need all that money."

If I know it to be can I go along with it anyway because my emotions tell me it has to be right? The World says that feelings can never be wrong; that since feelings are the standard, we do not need God's enduring word. I'm here to testify that feelings cannot be trusted...that His word is the only thing we can trust.

The standard never changes. But our standard must change as we bring ourselves into closer alignment with His standard. If that means redefining what is and is not acceptable viewing material in our family, then so be it. If we get a lot of flack about it from others (and we do), what does it matter, right? I am not afraid of changing. I am afraid of being the frog in the pot that gets slowly boiled to death.

***EDIT*** An anonymous commenter, (IP: ,, from the Entomology Department at Iowa State University assured me that the frog in the pot is a myth. This person is correct, but many things that are myths are such well-known analogies that they are still in popular use.


Monday, September 24, 2007

A Hard Day In Town

So, we were in town some today. The kids were was the other folks who encouraged me to stumble. Father saved the day just before I blew my testimony. He's good that way. I submit this not as an example of righteousness, but as proof (only those who do not know me in 'Real Life' need this) that we all fall short. Even then is Father faithful to intervene.
Minimum Wage Cashier: "Wowee!. How many you got there? Y'all trying to catch up with them folks with, what is it, fourteen? "

Me (on the inside): "No, but maybe I can raise enough voters to outnumber folks like you. I have a long way to go based on how many times I've heard that statement just this week."

Me (on the outside): "No,Ma'am, but those folks sure are blessed. Aren't they?"...while smiling and shaking my head, 'Yes'.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Navel-Pierced Goth Girl passer-by: "Ick. I'm glad it's you and not me."

Me (on the inside): gritting teeth...", too. Me. Too."

Me (on the outside): Smiling satisfactorily and looking at my brood...."Thank you, Sweetie, I am, too."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Complete stranger: "Don't you know what causes that?"

Me (on the inside): "Sure, I went to public school. I was taught it by complete strangers when I was nine, just like everybody else."

Me (on the outside): Forcing myself into a beaming smile...."Sure...and I know WHO causes it as well. Isn't the Lord GOOD to have blessed us with each of these children?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Smart Aleck Complete Stranger: " Don't you guys have a TV?" (inferring that the only two activities in all of life are watching TV or procreating) ...with a doofus, proud-of-himself chuckle.

Me (on the inside): " Father, remind me again why it is inappropriate to smack his saucy face?"

Me (on the outside): Looking puzzled and walking away..."I'm surprised that someone would rather watch TV."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Upon seeing an acquaintance at the store, he replays his conversation with one of our Smart Aleck relatives...

Acquaintance: "So, how many kids have Phil and Julie got now?"

Relative: "I don't know...I haven't seen them in a few days." (cue the uproarious laughter here)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sweet Old Lady Complete Stranger: "Oh! Are they all yours? How wonderful! You are so blessed...I was one of twelve, too."

Me (on the inside): "Thank you, Father, for your mercy. I really needed this right now."

Me (on the outside): With a deep sigh and looking visibly relieved..."Yes, the Lord HAS blessed me. And I'm blessed by your comments as well...thank you. Thank you so much."

Thank you Father...there is a remnant that understands.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Keeping Short Accounts

It really is freeing. Getting rid of all our superfluous stuff makes the days run smoother and creates a peace in me that is addictive. After a season of thorough decluttering, I want to always live like this! Without the follow-up step to decluttering ~ that of keeping the stuff out ~ I will surely not.

Our season of Teshuva is drawing to a close, after much soul-searching and house-cleaning of a different sort. We have, as a family, spent much time clearing the air, cleaning spiritual and relational slates through repentance. Those longstanding, nagging little things that haunt our spirits, weigh us down and beg to be brought into the light have been our focus - those 'little sins', never confessed, that hinder our joy in the Lord. Time alone does not make all things new again. Through writing letters, making phone calls, and having long heart-to-heart talks, we have sought and extended forgiveness, and, in the process, found restoration. The decluttering is done.

The question that arises now, is how to keep the decluttering done. We have made extensive new policies in our home to keep physical clutter from coming back in, but how do we keep spiritual and relational clutter from finding it's way back? Life happens...sinners collide, and offenses are a natural result. This forty day season of repentance has been rich for us, and, after this, our first year of observing it, we are unanimous in our desire to do it again. It was profitable for us to spend forty days focusing on getting right with our Father and our fellow man. However, I personally do not wish to have thirty-plus years of baggage to have to clear out again. My desire is to put a stake in the ground...right here...right now...and resolve to keep things current.

The answer for me comes in keeping short accounts.

There were several things that I had to make right that were small issues ~ things that I did not feel quite right about at the moment of occurrence, but had allowed to 'slide' instead of confessing and asking forgiveness immediately. Contemplating the wasted energy I spent thinking about these minor offenses over the years makes me ill. I have heard it said that the Holy Spirit will speak to you in a whisper, or, if you ignore Him, will eventually throw a brick at you. That you have a choice...obey the whisper or wait for the brick. I haven't meditated much on the theological aspect of that , or whether it is accurate, but it certainly is motivating. Looking back, I am painfully aware that I should have heeded the whisper.

Keeping short accounts is all about heeding the whisper. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, my place is to immediately confess and repent. Whether I am angry, lazy, prideful or selfish, I need to confess the instant I am aware of the sin ~ the instant the Holy Spirit whispers. I have to force myself to drop everything ~ right that minute ~ and ask forgiveness. It is the best method I have ever used for my part in putting my own sin to death. It is also the most humbling, which I suspect is the reason it works so well.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives" 1John 1:8-10.

Just as surely as we cannot cleanse ourselves, Yeshua can. So the order of the day, today, as every day, is a walk of obedient trust...heeding His voice, obeying His commands, and trusting in His cleansing.

Because it is so good to be clean.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I’m Listening

Mr. Visionary and I talk a lot. He was born to explain, exhort and encourage. It is a gift. I was born to question, condemn and complain. It is not a gift, per se, it inherited trait. In any case, we talk a lot, with myself usually asking questions, and he usually teaching. He is so natural in his teaching, that I often find myself having gleaned some deep truth from what he had considered to be casual conversation. This is where I am finding myself now.

We have a cozy loveseat in a sun-filled bay window in our room, and spend as much time there as life will allow, reading or chatting with each other, talking with the children, or doing our bible study together. When we aren't talking there, we do so at the kitchen table, or I stand in the bathroom doorway as he is getting ready for the day. In one of those casual chatting times this week, he was mentioning to me something he had recently shared with some young men. He was 'just talking', but I was listening. How many times the Holy Spirit speaks to me in apparently offhand ways! As is frequently the case, the second-hand advice I received from Mr. Visionary's conversation was a message to me from my Father.

Mr. Visionary mentioned that the fruit of the Spirit called self-control begets self-control and that the opposite is equally true. When we pride ourselves on being thin while lacking self-control in other areas, we are deceived. He shared how he at one time didn't feel a need to be self-controlled in the area of food because he wasn't overweight, but that Father showed him that it mattered. A lack of control in one area will migrate to another, he said.


That would certainly explain why a dark chocolate inclination addiction obsession and a tendency to be too angry too quickly are the sin issues with which I contend the most (or at least should contend the most). They are first cousins, related on the self-control side. Not my idea of a fun family reunion, I assure you.

So, I am my Father and Mr. Visionary, because the former often uses the latter to teach me.

And I have a lot to learn.