Monday, June 29, 2009

For Tough Times

Unbelief says:

Some other time, but not now;
some other place, but not here;
some other people, but not us.

Faith says:

Anything He did elsewhere He will do here;
anything He did any other time He is willing to do now;
anything He ever did for any other people He is willing to do for us!

With our

Feet on the ground,
and our head cool,
but with our hearts ablaze with the love of God,
we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey.


HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Silliness

A friend of mine posted this on FaceBook, titled "Are Women Just Born This Way?".

HT: Kellie

Friday, June 19, 2009


Article #1:

Here's a short interview with a pastor who is revitalizing a dying church in a place where people "don't do God".

Andrew Baughen – St. James Clerkenwell from Mars Hill Church on Vimeo.

Article #2:

If you are interested in the Christian debate about Global Warming you might like Dean Ohlman's excellent article.

Article #3:

Finally, here's a wonderful post from local blogger, Rose, about volunteering with her grandchildren. What a great idea!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Stroll-June 14, 2009

Yesterday my husband finished removing the tough roots of an old yew hedge, in anticipation of workmen coming this week to tear off our old porch and rebuild a new one. He's not a very big guy, and I think he pried them out by sheer force of will. Fortunately, my dire warnings that he was going to kill himself doing this did not come true. The workmen could have removed them for us, but doing it ourselves was going to save $150 dollars. But only because he didn't wind up in the emergency room!

I wanted to really savor my stroll around the back yard today, because I know it will be a mess most of the rest of the summer from all the construction. I was glad to see there are a few things that had bloomed for the first time within the last twenty-four hours.
These are the first hollyhocks of the season. I love hollyhocks! Some are growing from seeds my sister gave me; others are from seeds I scavenged from a stand of hollyhocks that are self-sown on drainage district property, along a ditch. I had driven by those several times, admiring them. One day in the fall I just pulled over and took some seed pods and put them in my pocket. I just couldn't help myself!

Purple loosestrife has started to bloom. Now, before you call the police, let me tell you I know they're invasive and no longer available to plant. This is the last of a very old planting of them. They have gradually died out in my garden. I think the fact that they are much loved by Japanese beetles has a lot to do with that. I'm not too worried that my particular plant is causing any problems. I don't think it ever has a chance to set seed, since it is so thoroughly eaten down by the beetles each summer.

The first day lilly! This one came from my brother-in-law's garden.
This was the first week of bloom for the oak leaf hydrangeas.

Finally a plant I know the real name of: penstemon "Husker Red", developed, I believe, at Nebraska State University. I planted them because I'm trying to gradually shift to prairie natives throughout my garden, or, at least, go that direction when I plant new things. The goal is to make the garden tolerant of our climate and welcoming to our particular birds and butterflies. I like the wine red of the stems and early foliage on these.
To see who else is strolling today, visit The Quiet Country House.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday Silliness

God texts the ten commandments

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg’s
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hymn of the Week- "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending"

I've always loved to study music history; it was one of my favorite classes at the University of Illinois, where I got my degree in Music Education.

I also love to study the sources of the music we use in church, both old and new, and find out a little about what specifically inspired the composers and lyricists in each case.

I thought it might be interesting to post about music that will be used in an upcoming service, so that those attending will perhaps enjoy the piece more. If you are reading this from a distance, maybe you'll also find some of this background interesting. Even if you're not a church attender, it can be fascinating to have a peek into the historical roots of some of our most influential musicians and poets, and perhaps gain insight into what Christians are reflecting on, whether you agree with it or not. This research is really for my own benefit, but I'll just put it out there anyway. I can't promise that I'll post something weekly, but I'm going to shoot for that as a goal.

This Sunday, the topic of the sermon is The Second Coming of Christ, as it is described in Luke's Gospel, chapter 17, verses 20-37. It's a subject that is endlessly debated, and I have no intention of going into the theology of it here. However, I, and the planning committee I meet with, was responsible for coming up with the music for the service that would support that sermon.

One hymn the congregation will sing is "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending". Though it's words are attributed to the great hymn writer Charles Wesley, it was actually based on a poem written by an eighteenth century land surveyor from Reading, England, named John Cennick. He eventually became a Moravian preacher. However, Wesley and two others, Martin Madan and a London cobbler named Thomas Olivers, adapted it for use in the Methodist movement.

Don't you love that? A surveyor, a cobbler, and one of the most famous hymn writers of that time, all contributing to this hymn! It's great poetry, too, based primarily on the first chapter of Revelation.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train;
Halleluiah! Halleluiah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing
Shall the true Messiah see.

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! Let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
Halleluiah! Halleluiah!
Everlasting God come down!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Silliness

This was titled "Jesus Saves"
No disrespect intended:)
HT: Fail Blog

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Fifth Sunday Family Gathering

Our church has kind of a unique arrangement for our multiple services. We have an 8:15am contemporary style service, followed by Sunday School at 9:30am (with a coffee time in between), and then we have two 10:45 am services, one contemporary and one traditional. That means that Pastor Randy preaches three times each Sunday, and that at 10:45 we "share" him. He preaches early in the 10:45 contemporary service, and then walks to the other side of the building to give his sermon in the traditional service.

Three years ago, when we first started doing this I, with my gift of encouragement, predicted disaster. I was wrong, thank goodness. Though there are challenges for the staff in this schedule, it has worked out pretty well, and our attendance has grown steadily. All three services are well attended.

One thing we all wanted to prevent, since we are an almost 145 year-old congregation, and have many multi-generational families, was the development of three "congregations" that had no sense of connection with each other. One way we did that was to keep our very strong Sunday School system untouched. Most people can remain connected through those classes even if they attend different services.

Another thing we did was institute our Fifth Sunday Family Gatherings. Four times a year, when there is a fifth Sunday in a month, we scrap our usual schedule and meet for a joint service. Sheer numbers means we have to meet in the room that is used for the contemporary service, as we won't all squeeze into the sanctuary. Unfortunately, this means we can't use the pipe organ, but when we plan this service we work very hard to make sure the music is a blend of old and new, and that we use worship elements that feel accessible to every age group. We use musicians from both "sides". We use those services to highlight "family" celebrations: welcoming new members, giving the children entering fourth grade their first Bibles, hearing from the youth about their mission trip, and recognizing those who are graduating from high school or college. These are things the whole congregation likes to unite in celebrating.

This past week was the Sunday we met together, and we recognized the graduates. No, graduating from school is not a particularly "spiritual" thing, but we want to offer encouragement and prayer for those who are moving on to a new stage in their lives. That thought led me to choose a fairly contemporary choral piece for the choir, "Be Strong, and Take Courage", by Basil Chaisson. Before singing it, four of the choir members read these verses:

"Yes I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, NLT)

"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowlege and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much praise and glory to God." (Phil. 1:9-11, NLT)

"So we keep on praying for you, asking God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 1:11-12, NLT)

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11, NLT)

It was meaningful to the choir to give this benediction to the graduates on this special Sunday, the Fifth Sunday Family Gathering.

And then, being Baptists, we just had to follow that with a potluck!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Are You Incurable?

The following are excerpts from a letter from a governor named Pliny to the Roman emperor Trajan on the growth of Christianity less than one hundred years after the crucifixion of Christ:

I have never been present at any of the Christians’ trials, and I am unaware of the methods and limits used in our investigation and torture. Do we show any regard to age or gender? If a Christian repents of his religion, do we still punish him or pardon him?
Currently, I am proceeding thus—I question them as to their religion; if they state they are Christian, I repeat the questioning, adding the threat of capital punishment. If they still persist, I order them to be executed. I do not believe that their stubbornness should go unpunished.
I recently questioned a group of Christians who, after interrogation, denied their faith. From this event, I could see more than ever the importance of extracting the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female prisoners. But I was able to discover nothing except depraved and excessive superstition.
I therefore thought it wise to consult you before continuing with this matter. The matter is well worth referring to you, especially considering the numbers endangered. This contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has also spread throughout the villages.
Nevertheless it still seems possible to check and cure it.


This is worth pondering; I hope and pray I would be found "incurable".